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Friday, March 13, 2009

The Stephen Harper tightrope walk

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took the opportunity of an opening night speech to an audience of conservative activists at the Manning Centre's Networking Conference Thursday evening to defend his record and affirm his conservative principles. However, after his remarks intended to shore up the base, lest he be mistaken for some sort of wild-eyed fiscal conservative (or *gasp* a libertarian), Harper left no doubt about his belief in the necessity of government intervention in the economy:

Conservatives lit up the blogosphere this week with complaints that Mr. Harper, in speeches last week, quoted liberal economist John Maynard Keynes.

Indeed, Mr. Harper himself used to be a harsh critic of Keynes's central idea, which was that governments should go into deficit in bad times and run surpluses in good times to keep an economy on an even keel.

In his 1991 thesis to earn a master's degree in economics, Mr. Harper argued that "Keynesian fiscal policy is subject to the influence of political parameters that lessen its effectiveness as a stabilization tool."

In other words, Mr. Harper argued that Keynes was wrong.

But beginning last fall, Mr. Harper changed his mind in response to the rapidity and depth of the global recession and, as a result, brought in a budget with one of the biggest deficits in decades.

[...] Harper conceded that, as a conservative, he believes governments have an important and central role.

"Conservatives don't believe big government - the welfare state - is the solution to all problems. We didn't believe it before the recession. We're not about to start believing it now. But neither can conservatives believe today that the marketplace - that which I call Wall Street - is the solution to all problems."

Read the rest.

(h/t David Akin)

Posted by Kalim Kassam on March 13, 2009 | Permalink


It is doubtful that Harper has really changed his mind all that much on the substance of (1) Keynesianism, (2) climate change, (3) gag laws (4) HRCs, (5) etc.

It is much more likely that he is sacrificing principle for power. He has a caucus to try to get re-elected, and friends to keep employed on the Hill. And there are tremendous external pressures on him to go with the flow - e.g. agreements made at the G20 that everyone would row together, more or less, on the stimulus thing. Whether he agrees with it or not, personally, it would be hard to thumb his nose at 19 other leaders who asked for at least a 2% GDP stimulus in every country.

That being said, one could have hoped that he would throw small-government types a bone of some kind - meaningful tax cuts instead of paper-intensive tax credits, for example. A trimming of the public sector. Anything....

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2009-03-13 2:46:44 AM

I mean he does not have to be a doctrinaire pure free marketeer. After all he is in high office and we did just have a crisis. So I can give the man some compromise. But calling for some regulation of the financial markets is a whole different ballgame than agreeing with Keynes on deficit spending and stimulus. That's not compromise its complete surrender of principles.

Posted by: Omar Abu Hatem | 2009-03-13 4:09:00 AM

>>Prime Minister Stephen Harper took the opportunity of an opening night speech to an audience of conservative activists at the Manning Centre's Networking Conference Thursday evening to defend his record and affirm his conservative principles.


(James 1:17 KJV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

(Col 3:9 KJV) Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

(1 Tim 1:9 KJV) Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

(Titus 1:12 KJV) One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

(Rev 2:2 KJV) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

(Rev 21:8 KJV) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

(1 John 1:9 KJV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

(Isa 28:17 KJV) Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.

(Hosea 10:13 KJV) Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.

(Nahum 3:1 KJV) Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

(Hab 2:18 KJV) What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

(John 8:44 KJV) Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

(John 8:45 KJV) And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

Half million Canadians to lose jobs this year, TD Bank says OTTAWA - Canada is suffering through one of the worst recessions in decades, one that will see more than half a million people thrown out of work, corporate profits tumble and household wealth decline sharply, says the Toronto-Dominion Bank.

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper has many strengths but communicating well with the Canadians who don’t share his political views is not one of them. By comparison, Harper’s strength as a communicator was in bringing the different conservative factions together to form one united party. The prime minister’s inability to connect with non-partisan Canadians was apparent this week when he spoke to a business audience in Brampton. Harper used the occasion to predict that Canada would be the first country to emerge from the recession and that it would be in a stronger position than ever. That sounds like wishful thinking. It is wishful thinking. There is nothing wrong with wishful thinking providing it is labelled as such. No one could fault the prime minister for saying he hopes Canada emerges from the recession more swiftly than any other country. Every Canadian wishes that. Harper, however, despite having easy access to finance department projections, seems to have no better view of the future economy than many other thoughtful Canadians. The truth is that no one can predict with confidence exactly when or how this current recession will end.” But it is still another thing to lie and to spin. “ It’s one thing for a leader to convey a long-term belief in the future — U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt did that successfully during the Depression — but it’s quite another to make predictions about which country will emerge first from a recession. That’s the type of subject better left to bookies. To be fair to Harper, other comments he made in his speech were much more perceptive. He said, for example, our fortunes depend on those of the United States. He’s right. Nothing would improve the Canadian economy as much as an improvement in the U.S. economy. We are an exporting nation, and a lot of our exports go south of the border. When the Americans aren’t buying, we have trouble selling. What Canadians want from the prime minister is straight talk that neither minimizes our problems nor leaves the impression the recession will never end. Surely Harper could find a speech writer who can help him convey this message.” but since most conservatives are still too often liars that is unlikely..

And you already do know that the devil is the father of all lies, behind all the lies, God and Jesus do not lie ever..
Most people are Ostriches, they have glamorous versions of the reality, a disserted one, a spin, one they use to make themselves not to deal with it or to think about it negatively.. not surprisingly since the average person now lies 3 times every 10 minutes..

But let me tell you 2 things about telling lies:

a: we tend to believe our own lies, funny how that is, say it often enough and you yourself start to be live the lie as the truth when it is still a lie.. and

b: the more you do now lie to yourself the crazier, the more insane you yourself do become even if you may not admit it, or now be aware of it. eventually you become totally loony as a result, a far grasp from reality. I have seen many a persons go there now too.

(James 1:26 KJV) If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

Posted by: THENONCONFORMER | 2009-03-13 7:16:59 AM

This particular statement reaffirmed that I will neither vote for Stephen Harper again nor support his party financially:

"Regulators may have failed to prevent it but, in the end, it was a failure of the private sector to live according to the values we as conservatives know to be true."

Sure, Stephen. And central banks pushing interest rates down to fantasy levels in the aftermath of the breakup of the tech boom had nothing to do with turning the economy into a casino. It's all the fault of that foolish private sector.

Posted by: Dennis | 2009-03-13 8:06:06 AM

Actually Harper is correct, it was consumers living beyond their means that helped drive the economy into the toilet. Big banks certainly share the blame no doubt however to just blame them is irresponsible. The Iraq war and the financial give-away to greedy contractors and terrorists over there didn't help either. Greed, whether corporate or at an individual level is a dangerous thing. Harper didn't cause this recession and no amount of spending is going to stop it. Suck it up people or would you rather your grandchildren be in debt paying high taxes forever to pay off the debts of the stupid. I guess you probably don't mind giving your hard earned money to the CAW either? After all can't have a bunch of fat, beer bellied idiots making less than 80k a year while your own kids drown under a mountain of student loans making a measly 30k.

Posted by: kate donovan | 2009-03-13 9:32:36 AM

I am with Grant on this one. He could have done the minimum required by the international community and still have carried through by reducing the size of the public service, just by cutting all the redundant and useless programs, along with some serious tax reduction. I would prefer to see income and payroll taxes reduced rather than the GST, which is a consumer tax.

There remains others issues such as the lack of action, effective action that is, concerning the CHRC and the gun registry which along with the CBC and the funding of numerous special interest groups are a drain on the economy.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-13 10:53:07 AM

More Harper doublespeek. Reminds me of how GWB went on verbally about how he supported free markets, days before he sent free money to AIG and the banksters.

Posted by: Faramir | 2009-03-13 11:04:00 AM

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