Monday, May 30, 2005

David Warren is really pessimistic

David Warrren sums up the rot in Ottawa, and looks at the bigger picture. Well worth reading.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Piling on Stephen Harper

In the past couple of weeks, there seems to be a lot of criticism of Stephen Harper by the Canadian media. Most of these stories go on about how 'angry' or 'scary' he appears. Other reports have 'unnamed sources' in the party criticizing his leadership, how he forced Belinda Stronach to cross over, and what not.

All this criticism is typical of the media, and unfounded. Ten years ago, I can recall how the media criticized Mike Harris' 'meanness' and his 'diviseness', and how he should be more 'inclusive' or 'moderate' his stances. In the U.S. the media fawns over John McCain's as a 'moderate' or 'maverick'. In McCain's case, they fawn over him whenever he tramples over conservative principles or sticks it to his party. To the press, the only way for a conservative to get acclaim is to be a liberal, like Joe Clark or Bob Stanfield. Don't be an alternative to the Liberal, be like them: embrace the welfare state, embrace same sex marriage, embrace the Liberal platform and we'll love you. Well, until there is an election and then they'll still attack you for being 'scary' and 'extreme'.

It is the same story with Harper. He can't win for trying. He expresses his disgust for the Liberals for their sleaze and willingness shred tradition and the law to cling onto power, and he gets criticized for being 'angry'. He let Belinda Stronach walk to the Grits, because she was a disruptive cancer in caucus, and he gets criticized for not being 'inclusive'. The press manages to find people who will, off the record, find fault with Harper's leadership.

Alas, all of this is nonsense. The media's offensive on Harper is part their inherent bias, and part a need to sensationalize to sell papers. Harper's accomplishments dispel this: as leader of the Canadian Alliance, he was instrumental in forging the merger with the Progressive Conservatives, he was elected leader of the merged party under a system that was beneficial to the former PCs, and he has managed to keep a unified caucus on message. These matters in and of themselves indicate that he is not a 'divisive' figure. The 'angry' bit doesn't hold water either: it didn't for Mike Harris, and it won't for Harper. When there is an actual election, and people have to actually focus on the choices they have, Harper's perceived 'anger' by the media will not be a significant issue. Finally, what is so 'scary' about the conservative's agenda. Frankly it is not conservative enough. What makes the issue stick is the lack of a detailed party platform. It is the ambiguity of the CPC's platform that is inviting this criticism.

I believe that a key portion of this platform should be a program on eliminating the opportunities for an Adscam to happen again - by eliminating vague government handouts like the sponsorship program and other invitations for graft like regional development, the gun registry and other like programs. It should be a real alternative to the Liberals policy wise - much like the common sense revolution. The entire summer should be spent on the road at any and every event - telling the public without the media liberal filter, how a conservative government would be truly different.

I hope this is the game plan if they cannot force a summer election, but the last thing that is needed is for the CPC to become the 'stupid' party again and start listening to the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and the CBC again.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Belinda Stronach - why am I not surprised

I spent the last week at a tax seminar, so I had limited opportunities to see what was going on in Ottawa. Friday afternoon, I found out that Belinda Stronach crossed the floor to the Libranos for a second tier cabinet post. I am not surprised that she crossed considering her ill-fated campaign to run for the leadership of the CPC. When she ran for the CPC, she ran a most vapid and empty campaign. It was devoid of all substance, and what policy pronouncements that came out, were hardly conservative on any level.

There are several things that are disturbing on this:

  1. The Libranos will do anything to breathe another day. Spend taxpayers money, bribe MPs with appointments, threaten litigation, throw out centuries of parliamentary tradition, whatever it takes. Just win baby! What happens to Canada's institutions after this. Now everything is justified by their actions - war measures act? Why not? They appointed all the judges - got them in their pockets, so no need to worry about them. RCMP? Under their thumb - they are just as politically tainted.
  2. Belinda Stronach sold out for so little. One of the great ironies in life is when people destroy their reputations and credibility for so little. Here is a woman worth billions, and throws it all away for a second tier cabinet post for a few months for which she is hardly qualified. It is one thing to cross the floor on principle - Churchill did it, Kilgour did it, but to prostitute oneself for so little - hardly becoming on her.
  3. As Bob Dole once said, "Where's the outrage?" You'd think there'd be an "orange revolution" happening on Parliament Hill, but seems like the electorate just shrugs their shoulders and a good chunk of the electorate seems to be willing to give them a pass on this. Wonder why Quebec separatism is ascending again, why Albertans mutter about going it alone... this is why. This moral relativism is destroying the fabric of the country, of Western civilization as we know it.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Economic Slowdown

I was having a discussion with some of my CPA colleagues over a few pops yesterday and we were talking about the overall state of the U.S. economy. We all expressed our concrens over what was going on, and were not sure about which way the economy is going. I think that we are going to have a bit of a slowdown. Here are some of the key points I think deserve mention.

  • The weak U.S. dollar is due to three things: Defecit spending is increasing the supplly of U.S dollars, and increased consumer spending financed by low interest rates and inflated housing values. According to Rich Bernstein, Cheif Quantative Strategist at Merrill Lynch, most of spending in the last few years has been sustained by people using home equity lines with variable interest rates. They are spending in excess of their discretionary income as a result. These three items are driving the U.S. dollar down in the intermediate term.
  • What can be done about it? The obvious answer is to somehow soak up this excess liquidity that is being used for consumption. In this sense, the increase in oil prices have helped to slow down spending. There are three main ways to slow down the consumption: raise taxes, run surplusses, or raise interest rates. In light of the current political circumstances neither raising taxes or running surplusses will happen. Greenspan has telegraphed his intentions about interest rates. He has warned that those who are in variable rate loans are asking for trouble. Increasing interest rates will force consumers to de-leverage their home equity loans, and will cool off the housing market. But the Fed has to be careful because if rates go too high, it will hurt investment and business activity. Greenspan has a delicate situation in front of him.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Quebec Separatism - another model

Does anybody out there know of separatists who are NOT statists? I have always noticed that the PQ, BQ and most sovereigntists are statists. They want a leviathan government as an answer to everything it seems, much more so than their EU brethren. However, I have often thought of separatism as a libertarian option. My first principle is the Quebec people, freed from excessive government would become wealthy, independent and prosperous to the point where the culture truly thrives. I have semi-seriously thought that if one set up an independent Quebec as a jurisdiction without an income tax, labour market flexibility (i.e. right-to-work) and with banking secrecy laws - that it would become the Hong Kong of North America with all the additional advantages of locality and access to abundant natural resources. Of course it seems that most separatists have grandiose visions of them leading a massive government, but I would love to know if anyone out there knows of any Quebecker who has proposed a libertarian model for an independent Quebec.

As an aside, Mark Steyn has an interesting article in the Western Standard about how the secularization of Quebec has hurt its prospects of independence. Interesting.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Are they on crack?

So now the Liberals are saying that an amendment to a bill requiring the government to resign being passed does not constitute a motion of non-confidence? What? They very fact that this motion was passed is prima face evidence that this minority government does not has the confidence of the house. What won't the Liberals stoop to in order to gasp another day in power? The shameless offers of appointments? Throwing loads of taxpayers money to bribe anyone or anything that will let them see the another day in power is pathetic. The most disgusting part of this is the ambivalent attitude by the electorate on this matter. If they re-elect this government, despite all this damming testimony - the people who vote for them are nothing more then enablers. They are enabling an abusive government, and have forfeit any rights to demand any accountability. I never thought I'd see the day when Mexico becomes the model of political integrity and openness, but sadly that is the way it's looking.