Journalism makes strange bedfellows

Well, that didn’t take long.

Well, that didn’t take long.


FEBRUARY 10, 2010

REALITY CHECK: Would the real Harper Conservatives please stand up?

In a recent speech in Calgary, former Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier put his ideology ahead of economic common sense. In doing so, he also exposed sharp divisions in Conservative ranks on whether to help the 1.6 million Canadians left jobless by the recession.

Speaking to Conservative Party faithful, Mr. Bernier disparaged public services as a “burden,” labeled government support of the ailing economy and its citizens as “intervention,” boasted about using his ministerial prerogative to put hundreds of his own constituents out of work in the name of laissez-faire capitalism, and proposed a Darwinian path forward. Among the highlights:

“To paraphrase John F. Kennedy.don’t ask what your government can do for you; ask your government to get out of the way, so that you can be free to take responsibility for yourself, for your family, and for everyone else that you care about.”

“Last year, the federal government’s total expenses were about 250 billion dollars. You can do a lot of things with [that]!…What if we decided that this is more than enough? That expenses are not going to grow anymore? And I’m not saying zero growth adjusted for inflation and population or GDP increase. Just zero growth. Every new government program, or increase in an existing program, has to be balanced by a decrease somewhere else.”

The full text of the speech can be found here:

While Mr. Bernier’s “zero-growth strategy” places him at odds with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his counterparts in the G7 who endorsed a continued economic stimulus plan last week in Iqaluit, his comments raise some interesting questions for the Harper Conservatives:

* Was this the kind of advice Mr. Harper had in mind when he prorogued Parliament to “recalibrate” his economic agenda?
* How does Mr. Harper square his stimulus package – and record $56-billion dollar deficit – with the views of an MP who thinks the entire process is a sham?
* Are Mr. Bernier’s comments a trial balloon for announcements Canadians can expect to hear in March’s budget?


Apparently there are others besides me who’d like to see a debate amongst Conservatives.