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The coalition that wasn't and the jobs budget that won't be

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

As any mediator will explain, the best deal is one that allows each side to claim victory ...Read the full article

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  1. diane marie from Canada writes: Mr. Simpson suggests that the Liberals are too weak to fight an election, but he berates them for not being strong enough to mount 'a criticism that is certainly valid, except coming from Liberals who did not fight against those measures'. If the Liberals are stronger under Mr. Ignatieff, one wonders how Mr. Simpson thinks that they were strong enough to 'fight against those measures' under Mr. Dion. It might have been useful had the press taken up the cause, but only Mr. Simpson really did. I suppose for that reason only, he can be forgiven (by me) for this odd bit of reasoning.
  2. Mike Sharp from Victoria, Canada writes:

    Any deal that sees the end of the coalition is a victory for Canadian democracy.

    At the end of the day the Liberal Party of Canada should have to answer for why they entered into a deal to allow separatists to run the country.

    Without allowing Canadians to vote on it.

    And the real reason the coalition dies?
    The LPC, the NDP and the Bloc will still get their $1.95.

    The Canadian left.
    Their services don't come cheap, but they help out when they can.
  3. Mike Sharp from Victoria, Canada writes:

    For a $1.95 we have 64 billion in debt by the panicked Canadian left.

    It truly is a shameful time in Canadian history.

    Blackmail and extortion.
  4. gar gurr from Canada writes: The coalition that a wasn't has shown Canadians one thing and many Liberals are breathing a sigh of relief that their party did not team up with Jack Layton. Layton has proved that his only interest is power at the expense of his party that will be recognized at next election. Te Liberals on the other hand have played it smart not saying they would vote against a budget two months ago like Jacky Boy.The Liberals have outsmarted both Ducppe and Layton by changing leaders. One again can pick their time of bringing down Harper because Layton and Duceppe would look like absolute idiots if any time in the next year or so they support anything the government proposes. Layton will just about lay his party to rest and the country once more will have two governing parties to chose from. Adios Jack
  5. P Martin from St. John's, Canada writes: The usual GaM article - badly written, a lot of assumptions and full of bias. Add some inflammatory and judgmental words that are neither accurate nor justified and this centralist rag just reached another low.
  6. K P from Peterboro, Canada writes: When I was a teenager, I used to dream that I would one day be an editorial writer for a pan-Canadian newspaper. Jeffrey Simpson was my idol. (I kid you not!) But, over the past few years, JS has become a curmudgeon, the perfect example of how the interesting can fade into the establisment. He is no longer willing to entertain thoughts of the possible, the different, the more democratic... Instead, he clings to sameness, lack of imagination, and... Well, to be honest, I think they pay him rather too well and, ummm, he just got kinda fat. What a shame. I bet YOU think that there is a lot to be said for government by the majority. Most civilised countries aspire to that end, always enriching their democracies to ensure more and more voices are heard. Why is Canada one of the few remaining rich countries that tolerates government by the minority? What on God's green Earth is our problem? Why can't we see that we live in a country blessed with nice people who get along DESPITE our antiquated electoral sytem? Don't we care that our voting system is unfair, that it gives the Bloc some sixty seats with 10% of the vote and the Greens zero seats with 7% ... or some 40 for the NDP's 18%...?? Oh. I just figured out that our problem is Jeffery Simpson. He doesn't like the idea that the majority should govern. Instead of seeking a fuller, more representative, and stabler democracy, he just spews sickening goo to prop up a government that alleges a right to govern when only a minority of folks who behoove themselves to vote in this broken system think it is the right party to govern. This guy was my idol? Forget it. How on Earth am I supposed to respect his old-fashioned goo? Can't we dream? Can't we hope for a more democratic future? Can't we all get excited about following most rich democracies and making our voting system fair? I can. But not that fat curmudgeon at the Globe... Holy sellout, Batman! Dude, your due date has come and gone... Retire already!
  7. diane marie from Canada writes: P Martin:-- Glutton for punishment, are we?
  8. Jack Sprat from Calgary, Canada writes: K P from Peterboro, the Conservatives and the Liberals are far closer ideologically than the Liberals and NDP.

    And electoral reform to proportional representation would require a constitutional admendment. Considering that Quebec and the Maritime provinces would reject that without a second thought, its a pointless exercise ruminating about it.
  9. Western Bear from Canada writes: The Conservatives will wear the economy. (Rightfully or not).
    The Liberals will wear the BlocCoalition. (OR Mr. Ignatieffs' signature ain't worth beans).
    I wonder if we will remember, come spring?
  10. C K from Vancouver, Canada writes: anne wilson... if you think this $64 billion millstone of a budget is a 'better' budget, then why don't you run out, re-mortgage your house, max out your credit cards, and empty your savings account and then let us all know how that micro-economic version of this budget works out for you. This is simply pi$$ing money away in the name of vague economic theory and consumer panic.
  11. R Miller from Halifax, Canada writes: 'Economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics.'

    -Ludwig Von Mises
  12. Just Plain Blue from Toronto, Canada writes: Michael Ignatieff : Sound and fury signifying nothing!
  13. scott thomas from Canada writes: I still haven't read the inside story on the enormous set of mis-steps that consist of the original budget. Harper, Flaherty, Giorno -- too clever by half? Machievelli out of control? Just plain dumb?
  14. Red October from Canada writes: Harper's small 'c' conservatives are not happy with Harper's fiscal policies and are being asked to cancel their contributions to the party.They are also pondering staring up a new reform party. Cameleon Harper with his pinocchio nose and with his pants on fire has led them down the garden path just to be a Prime Minister.
  15. Jordan W from Montreal, Canada writes: Oh. I just figured out that our problem is Jeffery Simpson. He doesn't like the idea that the majority should govern. Instead of seeking a fuller, more representative, and stabler democracy, he just spews sickening goo to prop up a government that alleges a right to govern when only a minority of folks who behoove themselves to vote in this broken system think it is the right party to govern.

    PR governments are anything but stable. They can allow hardline parties to have much more influence over government policy. Look at Israel, Italy, Austria. There may be many advantages to a more representative system but one of them is not stability.
  16. Gerry Pankhurst from Bridgetown Barbados (Temp), Canada writes: Call it any way you want. The fact is, Iggy and friends have been out maneuvered by Prime Minster Harper for the umteenth time and are now working desperately to come up with an explanation as to why the coalition is dead as a dodo, if it ever did have a life, and how it was only through their great display of political know how that the government has come up with a budget that will be approved.

    New leader, new strategies and tactics but the same old comic opera. Congratulations Mr. Haper; you did it again.
  17. Nick Beerman from Calgary, Canada writes: I don't think anyone wanted a coalition but what were the choices.

    1/ defeat the government and force and election.

    2/ let the legistaltion pass which would be a drastic blow to democracy in this country. This was in the fact that Federal support for parties would be withdrawn without removing the restrictions on private donations elimiating the Green Party and cripling the other parties.

    3/ Form a coalition and force the Conservatives to behave in a democratic manner.

    Calling an election in December would just create more voter appathy and delay doing anything at all about the economy. Letting the dispicable and blatent attempt to strangle democracy is no choice at all. What is left?
  18. Bryan Gloyd from London, Canada writes: These developments have changed things irreversably:

    The Conservatives face a much stronger, more united Liberal party. Whatever happens now, the Liberals are probably on the ascendancy. That's good news for the country - the official Opposition is now getting things together.

    Harper has lost significant political capital. His 3-year-old temper has embarrassed him, his party and his base. He looks weaker. Party rumblings have started about how long he should stay in power. 2 elections and until December he hadn't learned much until he almost blew it all away. He is a shell of what he was in terms of respect and leadership savvy.

    I think it's a new ball game. If the Liberals are smart, they'll let Harper carry the can through the downtown. I wonder how his right-wing base is taking a budget that will wipe out all the progress made in 5 years.

    If Harper would have left the GST where it was, we would have had enough extra money to almost offset the upcoming budgets, right?
  19. Catherine Wilkie from Canada writes: Gerry Pankhurst: You must be the only one claiming that Harper is a strategist.

    He engineered his own political downfall.
  20. John L from PEC, Canada writes: Teh NDP will vote against the budget for one exceedingly valid reason. Not one cent of a previous $33billion dollar infrastructure program has been spent. Why? Because of the ideological dictims that have to be followed to get the money. So why would one expect these promises to be any better.

    If public private partnerships are so important why does it only apply to money for public projects? We have all seen the capability of the private sector lately.
  21. Henry Bollingbroke from Ottawa, Canada writes: I think Harper would gain more support and maybe a majority down the road by sticking to his principles.

    The Bank of Canada has calculated a 3.5% growth for next year. The recession -- most economists agree -- will only last a year or so at most.

    IF Harper were to finally stand up to Quebec and say absolutely NO to saddling the country with a huge deficit - thereby undoing all the work of the past decade - I think Canadians would reward him.

    Perhaps the Liberal would over-throw him. So be it. Let them wear the deficit crown then and let Harper mop up in the spring or fall.

    I don't think this spending is necessary -- and I have even LESS respect for Harper for being the one to do it.

    I thought this guy was a TACTICAL genius. Desperate to stay in power at any cost is more like it.
  22. Henry Bollingbroke from Ottawa, Canada writes: Oh, and one other thing... If all this infrastructure money is tied as they say to a 1/3 funding formula - 1/3 municipalities / 1/3 provincial / 1/3 federal ------ then someone is going to have to give cities and towns some money. Or maybe Flaherty should ask Ontario to lift the ban on municipalities on running deficits that his provincial gov't pased in the 90's.

    The rubber hits the road in the cities. They're broke. They can't run massive deficits like the feds and provincial gov'ts do.

    I live in Ottawa -- we're MASSIVELY broke here -- as if we could come up with a billion dollars to access that infrastructure funding!
  23. N. Ontarian from Canada writes: Jeffrey Simpsson has nailed it - once again. It's unlikely that we'll ever see a $64 B deficit, because the Libs will force an election long before all of that money can ever be spent - probably within 12-16 months. I predict we might actually see a third of it go out.
    The Conservatives will then get a majority, and can actually do what is right for the country, instead of what they are being blackmailed to do, by the power-obsessed Layton. At the same election the Libs will be much stronger, and the NDP will be decimated, as long as Layton is still there.
  24. M M from Canada, Canada writes: I'm fine with the Liberals and other members of the coalition taking credit for the pending deficit generated by this huge amount of unnecessary spending. Let's just hope that voters remember that in the next election (and the CPC is smart enough to make a point of it). I doubt that any of the spending will generate jobs - governments cannot create jobs unless they are directly hiring people - they shouldn't be saving jobs, since some jobs should disappear if they have not economic value and as for protecting the vulnable - we have social programs for that. If your EI benefits have run out - there is welfare - extending EI benefits is just another form of welfare that doesn't hurt the the self-esteem of those collecting it (it probably also doesn't light a fire under them to get moving onto something else). If you have too much debt, we have bankruptcy laws for both businesses and individuals to put your lives back in order and start anew. Banruptcy is not great, but you actually do get to keep a lot of stuff and you get a chance to rebuild - use it. We don't need any new government interventions, particularly when the people who will end up paying for them are likely that ones that have their lives in order.
  25. R. Carriere from Maritimes, Canada writes:

    JS nails it again! Interesting to note the whining of some posters who dreamed of a coalition. Unable to face the truth and reality, they attack the writer. Unable to grasp the concepts put forward, they lash out at Simpson.

    Perhaps they missed the interview yesterday when IGGY stated he 'knows' the coalition with the BQ has caused concerns with the ROC, and that will play a part in his ultimate decision---which we all know will be to pass the budget in the manner JS describes.

    Simpson writes, 'The new stimulus injected into the economy will grab headlines, but it won't actually do much to create jobs - except for future governments, which will have to try to eliminate the deficits that are about to be created.'

    I don't totally agree as the key will be HOW and IF the money gets out.

    'A number of reports confirm that the job creation potential from tax cuts is dramatically lower than for other stimulus measures. For instance, $1 billion in tax cuts only leads to 6,000 jobs whereas $1 billion in infrastructure spending creates 16,000 jobs and for health care the figure is 18,000 jobs, as modeled by Informetrica Ltd. '

    CCPA :
  26. Mark Jones from Ottawa, Canada writes: Jeff your senate seat is assured.
  27. Mitch hourigan from Canada, Canada writes: After watching the recent ascension of Mr Obama to the Presidency, I at least got the 'hope' of democracy. Watching Canadian political gamesmanship, I just get angry.
  28. N. Ontarian from Canada writes: Fear not people - PM Harper and the Conservatives will never, no not ever, throw $64 B of our money out the door - and that is a good thing, and the Conservatives know it, and they know we of the centre-right know it. They know that: a) economic stimulus rarely works; and b) the Liberals will be forcing an election long before they ever have to fully commit $64 B c) that the economy will recover sooner than later, and thus will not require throwing away such largesse. They are ONLY even talking about it, because they are being blackmailed by the NDP. Bloc, and the former Dion-led Liberals, who have threatened to steal the reins of government if they don't come up with a 'plan' to spend, spend, spend. They know it's wrong, they know it's stupid. Have no fear people, the Conservatives know exactly what they are doing, and have the best interests of the country in mind; and fortunately for us, will never diss away $64B of taxpayer money.
  29. Arnold Guetta from Ottawa, Canada writes: Jeffrey Simpson who influences a million or more voters with every column, true or false, again deceives the House and his readers.
    He misses that which has been literally under his nose since he dismissed this mathematician at the Chateau Laurier with words unsuitable for family reading, witnessed by Steve Paikin.
    Canadian Judicial Council (Metcalfe Street) file 05-0626 (eight or so pages, might cost his Ottawa Bureau ten dollars),
    1:recovers $1,050,000 from three judges (destroyed submitted evidence, replaced a mathematician in public process by a third year student, and cited early submissions 'too late'. preserving the Ottawa Bureau's favorite rackets), but more seriously,
    2: recovers by due process$7.1 billions, in time today to provide
    3. Minister Flaherty with the evidence of $30 billions annually in theft and waste in public spending, either a better first step, or a better entire replacement for his rumoured $34 billions in debt, and
    4:saves honest law enforcement lives in the process Ref: RCMP GC-310-26-4-1
    Arnold Guetta, mathematician
  30. Henry Bollingbroke from Ottawa, Canada writes: Arnold: What hell are you talking about?
  31. Mitch hourigan from Canada, Canada writes: Arnold: What hell are you talking about? Henry, thanks for a good laugh this AM
  32. Ed Long from Canada writes: $64B is about the minimum number to satisfy the endless hunger for spending of the left and the maximum number before the pages run for the paddles to revive CPC MPs.

    It also satisfies another desire of the left, more taxes. In a few years the only way to pay down this little money press acceleration will be more taxes and social engineering. A Green Shift to pay down the deficit because the planet is cooling and we must save it.

    Provinces will also raising taxes. Why?? Those that signed on to big P3 projects, i.e. B.C., will have completed projects, if the developers can arrange final financing, and guarantee clauses in their 30 years contracts ensuring the developers revenue flow through usage tolls or maintenance contracts. Those 30 year contracts have revenue minimums based upon continued growth .... and we know what that got us.
  33. Martha K. from Canada writes: My contention has always been that Mr. Ignatieff won't use the coalition option for two reasons:

    1) he knows that by going down this slipperly slope of an argument, it may/will be used against him in the future should he ever become PM in a minority gov't;

    2) he'd have to reveal the full extent and weight of what the BLOC is purported to be getting from this deal. They'd need the BLOC votes to pull it off and the BLOC no doubt extracted a whopping price. The 2 Billion or so that was leaked is just the tip of the barrel I'm afraid.

    And I think if this document was revealed to the Canadian public and he knowingly signed it - even if he was the last individual to do so - it would mean he would have endorsed their cash grab - Canadians would not be amused.
  34. David Browne from Toronto, Canada writes: Economics 101 Jeffrey, try taking the course then maybe you will know what you are talking about. Right now your dead wrong.
  35. R M from Toronto, Canada writes: I find it hilarious that while some of the MSM talks about the coalition as if it will disappear, other parts of the MSM try to not even acknowledge it's existence.

    I know your job is to try to guess at what the politicians will do, based on the facts that are available, but I don't think anyone except Ignatieff knows what the Liberals are going to do here.
  36. Joe Dick from Kingston, Canada writes: The coalition was an ill-conceived conspiracy between the Bloc and the NDP that was waiting for the right $1.95 to come along.

    Iggy is in a very tough spot.
  37. al isinwonderland from Canada writes: I am just getting so tired of Canadian politics!!! The likes of Jack Layton, to me clearly demonstrates the need of a 2 party system to more clearly represent the publics interests. The fact that JL would not even consider the merits of the budget demonstrates quite a lot about man and his party. Upsetting the elected government for a coalition that would be doomed for failure because of divergent interests in a time of economic crisis is surely a recipe for disaster.
  38. p lailey from vancouver, Canada writes: Here's a radical idea. Why don't the Liberals actually try to convince voters to vote for them. You know, come up with a policy platform that voters will support instead of trying to get back to power with a coalition and without an election. Sure, it takes a great deal of hard work and they might have to be in opposition for a few more years but in the end the party will be stronger and can also get back on a more solid financial footing.
  39. Wayne Young from Victoria BC, Canada writes: The best part of the current situation is how frustrated left wing nuts are. The LPC now has a leader the Igster who has more in common with Harper than with the wannabee kingmaker Jacko. Only in Canada EH! Oh well at least Jacko won't be around for long has anyone noticed the gleam in Mulcair's eyes of late and the can of grease he is carrying around of which he is looking for the chute to prepare the ride down for Jacko when he pushes Jack hopefully all will go smoothly. The we have Gilles who is obviously getting tired same o same o as the Bloc phones it in (when will the people of Quebec wake up?) In the meantime Steven still sitting in the PM's chair when by all rights (at least as far as some web forums go) he never should have made it there to begin with .. but there he is, remains and with only 12 seats to go what's a poor frustrated left wing nut to do. Especially when all the warm and fuzzies start coming from Obama - god it must suck to be a left wing nut in canada these days they must want to move to the states.
  40. Ed Long from Canada writes: B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has said it took a generation to remove a deficit. Given we started deficit spending seriously in the Trudeau years, he is right.

    The boom/bust cycle of recessions shows a maximum of 8-9 years before recovery to pre-bust levels. And some argue that government interventions have pushed that envelope farther than normal.

    So, do we want another generation of program cuts and increased taxation to eliminate a deficit, or can we tough out 8-9 years and possibly less?
  41. R. Carriere from Maritimes, Canada writes:
    JS writes, '.. except for future governments, which will have to try to eliminate the deficits that are about to be created'

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? 'Who watches the watchers?'

    What is amazing through this whole 'big picture' process is how there has been almost no dissent, public debate, and serious questions about world governments spending massive amounts of money and passing on huge debt to future generations.

    The media has also not done its job of presenting an opposition view and has only fannned the flames of panic.

    For many years, govt. spending was seen as waste-pork-corrupt in many cases, now it has been decided it is the ONLY answer to all that ills us.

    Last November, the G20 met and in conjunction with the IMF, decided massive govt intervention was the OLNLY solution-Intervention to the amout of 2%-3% of a countrie's GDP by government borrowing massive amounts.

    In another G&M story, here is what some countries have done or plan to do to 'bail-out' whatever:

    United States $825-Billion 5% GDP
    Canada $49-Billion 1.25 %
    China $580-Billion 16 %
    EU $264-Billion 1.5%

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
  42. Martha K. from Canada writes: R Carriere - great figures. Thanks for those. I believe though the US will surpass 1 trillion - that's the general feeling now from the articles I'm reading by leading economists online. So by your calculations I guess it'll be around 7% GDP.

    So it's odd no, that Canadians of the left persuasion are up in arms at the tax stimulus that Mr. Harper's cabinet has created - and it's a modest 1.25% in comparison to some really big numbers in other countries.
  43. Haiden MitHand El from Canada writes: P Martin from St. John's, Canada writes: The usual GaM article - badly written, a lot of assumptions and full of bias. Add some inflammatory and judgmental words that are neither accurate nor justified and this centralist rag just reached another low.

    P Martin -- it's an opinion piece not an article. It was written with that intent just as your comments are opinion and nothing more. Sheesh...
  44. Loose Cannon from Western Canada, Canada writes: As a life long Conservative I'm ashamed and disappointed today. I wish Harper would've either called their bluff and fallen on his sword last year during the whole coalition of the incompetent fiasco. at least then they might've been bounced from power and three weeks later when the 3 stooges realized they can't work together we would've went to the polls and Harper could've said 'See I told you so'. INstead he has pandered to the left and is about to release a heinously left leaning over spending budget where everyone and their neighbours dog has their respective hands out for $$$. He's doing what the Libs always do...ANYTHING to stay in power. He should've stuck to Conservative principles and taken his medicine b/c they likely would've won a majority out of it. A 300 million dollar election PALES in comparison to 64 Billion in useless so calles stimulus.
  45. The Bull from Canada writes: i look forward to the creation of a conservative party one day.

    perhaps we'll call it 'Reform' or something.

    if the tories lose the next election, it won't be because the Liberals get out the vote, it'll be because conservatives don't bother to vote.
  46. Trapped in Stephen Harper's back yard from Airdrie, Canada writes: I agree the budget will pass. We know it will be back to the rhetoric by April. But wouldn't it be nice if the budget bombed and we tried something different? Something more effective?

    I'm all for having a government create policy and spending in a time like this, but I'd rather have an effective government for a short time than a semi-effective government for a long time.
  47. I'm Michael Ignatieff and You're Not from Canada writes: All political parties are 'flexible' and bend with the political winds; like Jack Layton agreeing to support corporate tax cuts to gain a seat in the coaliiton.
  48. john deere from Canada writes: Loose Cannon to say that finally you are disappointed in Harper is a positive first step in the healing process - the fact that the entire Conservative Party could not envisage the massive triple deficits that the U.S. were running as being unsustainable is to me anyways both baffling and bizarre.

    Signs were everywhere, from the ridiculous to the obvious - it was all a matter of when and how bad rather than if. Who new that people couldn't afford $1.2 million starter homes in L.A., even with no money down and a tax rebate to boot. Indeed.
  49. Jimmy K from Toronto, Canada writes: LC, agree with you 100%. This Jack Harper / Stephen Layton thing is horrific.
  50. Gerry Pankhurst from Bridgetown Barbados (Temp), Canada writes: Catherine Wilkie: Your comment: 'He engineered his own political downfall' rates high on your long list of inanities. The last I heard, he is still there running things and out 'strategising' the rest of the crowd, or has that escaped your narrow field of vision?
  51. Loose Cannon from Western Canada, Canada writes: Disappointed in Harper and embracing the left are polar opposites. If I wanted a Layton Left Leaning catastrophic budget I would've voted for it. Unfortunately for the Cons is that Harper will wear this deficit and may very well fall on it. Conservative principles aren't like the ones he's pushing today, which is shocking coming from a person whon claims to embrace true conservative principles. He caved and now we're ALL going to pay for it years from now. Recall the 90's when Chretien/Martin ran up deficits of 30, 32 and 36 billion only to have to make ridiculous cut backs to everythin, increase taxes and then claim 'Oh look we're in surplus and are balancing the books'. Gov'ts that are in that kind of surplus take to much from the tax payer.
  52. Ed Case from Kelowna, Canada writes: Ed Long: we, the public, probably can tough it out for several years just by being prudent with our own money. However, 8 years is an eternity for a modern politician who can only see as far as the next election and what it will take to stay in power. Hence this obscene spending binge for 'shovel-ready' projects and their associated photo-ops. It's no different from the ridiculous amounts of money spent on airport security: it achieves nothing but the government is 'seen to be doing something'.
  53. R. Carriere from Maritimes, Canada writes:

    Martha K. from Canada writes: R Carriere - great figures. Thanks for those. I believe though the US will surpass 1 trillion - that's the general feeling now from the articles I'm reading by leading economists online. So by your calculations I guess it'll be around 7% GDP.

    So it's odd no, that Canadians of the left persuasion are up in arms at the tax stimulus that Mr. Harper's cabinet has created - and it's a modest 1.25% in comparison to some really big numbers in other countries.
    Martha: Hold on tight-That's only part of the story. Over and above the stimulous, it was stated the US federal govt, would have a 2008-09 fiscal year defict (which ends in September) of 1.2 TRILLION!

    Add the Obama bail-out of a 'reported' $850 Billion....then add the second portion of the TARP money release for financial institution bailout...and that is another $375 Billion from the total $750 BILLION alloted..........that's a lot of BILLIONS which will push the net US federal debt to 14-15 TRILLION. Complete insanity!
  54. D Le5 from Canada writes: Tools were there and they used them - much like the CPC would have against Martins Liberals.
    Enough crying already. It was the best tool for the job and it worked. The PM thought he could play games right off the bat and was soundly thumped by a semi-united left.
    I think it is great that there were options to get this government thinking beyond their sole goal of destroying the Liberals (or any opposition). If you want to talk about insults to democracy I think trying to bankrupt the only viable (sorry NDP fans - some good ideas but bad execution in NDP policy) opposition party.
    At the very least the coalition could disolve against any Bloc demands that are unpalatable but could we say the same for an unopposed CPC? Not likely.

    This situation drove home to the LPC and CPC that both were being jackarses and to get in gear. LPC needed to keep the Bloc at bay and the CPC needed to get serious doing their job for once. Both seemed to have got the mesage.

    I am sure the 'average' Canadian can tell all these Governments that are providing stimulus packages how dumb they are but it seems to be one of the few things these governments agree on. I have my doubts that China is being won over by the main stream media.
  55. Roslyn fed up Canadian from Montreal, Canada writes: And for the grand finale....Flaherty is going to bring forward the 31.5% taxation on trusts. What a government of the people! The budget will pass and any solutions to Canada's recession will be soon forgotten. Harper gets away with lies and the Canadian public (idiots all ) believes him. He has yet to keep a promise so why would Flaherty's foolish budget make him do so. He models himself after the dictatorships of Africa....they get away with harming their population so why shouldn't a guy who has a Bachelor of Commerce have as much power. LOL
  56. J Hare from Saskatoon, Canada writes: The Liberal (and most political parties) are dead institutions. Since they no longer have to listen to or are controlled by their membership they are empty husks of their former selves. When both the Libs and Cons conventioners are told that 'they're ideas would be considered just like any other stake holder's' why both to participate in the party at all? Why have a membership if the whole reason to do so is removed (influence government policy though the creation of party platforms)? Sorry but you can pick Libs or Cons but neither will listen to you and neither is a healthy symptom of democracy. My best hopes right now lie of voter turn out dropping below 50%. Maybe then we can pack in this sham that has been going on for to long.

    James Hare
  57. Jesu Pifco from Canada writes: P. Martin,
    Of course biased...this an op/ed article , not a news story. This distinction is regularly overlooked.
  58. R. Carriere from Maritimes, Canada writes: Jimmy K from Toronto, Canada writes: Carriere, recheck those figures.
    Our economy is 1.3T. 49b is 3.7%.

    Looks like harper joined the coalition and didn't tell us.
    Jimmy, I took those figures from another G&M story in the business section today. It stated that All figures quoted were 'U.S. estimated' ( I guess they mean US dollars...) and it was based on estimated, 2007 GDP.

    Here is the link.
  59. Chris Hay from Regina, SK, Canada writes: Let the insanity continue! As we once again enter into deficit spending that will take at least a decade to repay. It was a reckless belief and wanton disregard for any attempt at fiscal prudence that got us into this mess in the first place; the government by cutting revenues, and adding to the 'credit limit' by spending even more is not going to solve any problem for the long term. If anything it will only exacerbate the problem. Has anyone ever thought to askWhat if the Chinese/Japanese/Arab bankers who will be loaning all this money were to say 'No'. What if they were to decide in this time of economic downturn, they were to keep the money for their own economies, and actually had the 'audacity' to begin asking for repayment of the loans already given? History has repeatedly shown us that such overwhelming 'stimulus' spending doesn't work, the belief that this time it will... people have forgotten the old adage that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. This government (and that includes the opposition!), is ensuring all Canadians will be repeating history for decades to come. As the vacuum of leadership continues, let the insanity continue!
  60. muriel martin from Canada writes: As a senior we just love all these tax cuts, there wonderful. Apparently we are going to receive more this afternoon. With our lousy Canadian money sinking like a stone these savings will allow us to buy more US dollars and escape to southern California for a couple of months. Drop us a note to tell us how it all turns out like we are really interested. We are going to do our Canadian duty and spend as much as possible in the US which will help their economy and in turn help ours. Only trying to do my bit.
  61. Anthony Thorne from Sidney, Canada writes: Jeffrey, perhaps you could consult with Uncle Fred, he may be a little less cynical and more in touch with the 'middle' that area of political life that the Mop and Pail seems so uncomfortable with. Liberalism in Canada is not aging socialism nor is it dogmatic conservatism. It is pragmatism.
  62. Jesu Pifco from Canada writes: Navigating the usual partisan rhetoric leaves no doubt as to what truly is a 'shovel ready' project.
  63. richard sharp from Gatineau, writes: Mr. Simpson and 99% of other media pundits don't give the coalition a chance but, last I looked, the number one goal of a political party is to gain power. Number two is to do the greatest good for the greatest number in order to have a fighting chance at retaining it.

    If I'm Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberals, my choices are to take power right away, and keep it for 18-30 months or longer; or to cave to the Conservatives yet again, and lose perhaps forever this golden opportunity to turn this country around.

    Think the opposite of Mr. Harper's failed neo-con agenda. Think progressive policies.

    Canadians don't want another election (a 4th in 5 years) so the GG has no choice but to grant the coalition an opportunity to govern.

    So, why is everyone trashing the coalition? What are their biases and motives? Let's start with who pays their salaries? On whose side are the owners of the corporate media?
  64. Martha K. from Canada writes: Yes I agree it's insane R. Carriere. I also read that many surmise this might go a long way to bankrupting the nation (US). There are some who think that this so-called socialist agenda is to guarantee a second term - which would be very doable if you are giving 75% of the country a huge tax break or no taxes at all and tons of social programs, on the backs of those who earn more than $175,000 a year.

    But I guess we have to give Mr. Obama a chance to see where he is going with all this.
  65. Shawn Bull from Canada writes: $1.95 turned into a $60 billion Canadian deficit. Canada loses because the Liberals, NDP and Bloc didn't want to lose their $1.95 tax payers money for each vote.
  66. Ron in calgary from Calgary, Canada writes: Jeffery-tell us all what we really want to know. Give us the scoop on your bad one night stand!!!! certainly would be more entertaining than this budget leak stuff.
  67. R M from Toronto, Canada writes: 'So, why is everyone trashing the coalition? What are their biases and motives? Let's start with who pays their salaries? On whose side are the owners of the corporate media?'

    I think because it's the cool thing to do. It seems we have forgotten that the entire reason the coalition came about was Harper's doing. It wasn't on the table until he went for the jugular, so how can anyone blame the Liberals for doing what they had to do to ensure their survival? And why would the Liberals now say 'ok, no coalition!' which would put Harper in an even stronger position than before he ran away to mommy?

    I don't think the Coalition fully dies even if the budget is supported. It will now be an option, in my opinion, until someone gets a majority or Harper is ousted.
  68. J Hare from Saskatoon, Canada writes: Shawn Bull, I'm not sure I can connect these dots. The 1.95 per vote was what caused the governmet so much trouble by trying to undermine the other parties. Its the whole confidence of the house thing. If it had been left well enough alone or given a reasonable time line for its retirement (3 or 4 years) it might have annoyed people but not caused all this to happen.

    The governement could probably send less then $60 billion (interesting side note to judge the size of a billion. 1 billion seconds ago it was 1978 and the Village people were top of the charts). But this is a Government made plan, not an opposition made plan so I just don't get how its their fault the government is spending this money?

    James Hare
  69. richard sharp from Gatineau, writes: As I posted on the budget blog, Mr. Ignatieff's options include:

    1. Vote the budget down, for stated reasons, and given Canadians do not want the delay and expense of a 4th election in 5 years, advise the GG to request that he form a coalition alternative

    2. Approve the budget, on the proviso that the Conservatives do now obstruct committee work to amend it, nor the will of the majority in the House to pass such amendments. If either occurs, vote the Conservatives out.

    3. Approve the budget, and wait for the Conservatives to fail to implement some portion thereof with all due haste, or commit some other egregious error warranting a loss of confidence.

    Anything else? And if the first job of any political party is to gain power, why on earth wouldn't he exercise option no. 1?
  70. DJ Vick from Canada writes: As of today, Canada's largest trading partner, that being the US, now has an accumulated debt of 10.633 trillion dollars and is continuing to go into debt at a rate of about 3.35 billion dollars per day.
    This all before Pres. Obama goes on his spending spree, which will no doubt put that country even further in debt.
    Question is, how long can the US dollar survive this mounting debt before their currency faces a serious devaluation.
    Other countries have gone bankrupt and it can also happen to the US.
    Over 80% of our exports now go to the US and unless they can turn their economy around and somehow fix their financial mess, how are they going to buy our products.
    Any jobs created by a budget brought in by the government of Canada can only be temporary make work on infastructure or home renovations.
    It will take a revival of the world economy and in particular the US, before any long term permanent jobs can be realised and those jobs will be in the private sector.
    So the politicians in Ottawa can jaw bone all they want but it is bad debt and over spending that created this problem and it is unlikely that more debt spending will be the solution.
  71. elizabeth vann from victoria, b.c., Canada writes: The coalition is a shoddy piece of work foisted on us by opposition parties that could not bear losing their $1.95 from the taxpayer. Regardless of the pompous statements from the NDP/LIB/Bloc that their aim was to save the country, etc., it was all about the money.

    Let's throw the corpse of the coalition off the train and get on with our lives.

    Time for the budget. Let's go listen and watch.
  72. Just In from Canada writes: Shawn Bull from Canada writes: $1.95 turned into a $60 billion Canadian deficit. Canada loses because the Liberals, NDP and Bloc didn't want to lose their $1.95 tax payers money for each vote.


    The $1.95 is much smaller than the political donations tax credit. The Conservative Party receives much more federal hand outs than any other party. This is because up to 75% tax credit is paid by tax payers to reimburse political donations.

    A relative small number of very determined donors can dramatically affect the balance in finances of political parties. A 75% tax credible is available which means that a net donation of $25 is matched by $75 by the federal government.

    A donor-voter is therefore worth $76.95 compared to a non-donor-voter at $1.95. What this means is politicians will value the view of donor as much as 39 times more than that of a non-donor.

    That means policies can be 'bought' by a collective of 'grass root' donors more so than the public at large. The 'collective' could even be an extremist religious group with like minds but none the less donating individually, or even individuals from an organized crime group.

    This donation-induced-policy-power at the political party level is a threat to our democracy and therefore TAX CREDITS FOR POLITICAL DONATIONS SHOULD BE ABOLISHED.

    As a present example, the Conservative Party has the largest base of grass roots donors, some ~100,000 die hard Alberta Separatists originally Reform Alliance now Conservative donors, out of ~107,000 total donors. Any future leader of the Party has to answer to these donors as election campaign are funded largely by this group. Albertan donors campaign financing dramatically influence election outcomes in other provinces which brings into question political legitimacy of the non-Albertan Conservative MP's.
  73. Systemic Risk from Canada writes: Just In - the not minor difference is that people in AB vote for a party that people in BC, ON, SK etc etc, also vote for; in the millions. The Bloc received exactly 0 votes outside QC. I'm always amazed at the hermeneutic gymnastics by some "progressives" in this country that can see the Bloc as less of a threat than the CPC - be careful what you wish for - Harper has a comfortable majority in the 9 provinces of Canada ex Quebec...
  74. Ed Long from Canada writes: Ed Case writes, 'It's no different from the ridiculous amounts of money spent on airport security: it achieves nothing but the government is 'seen to be doing something'.

    Great analogy.

    Airport security at least make people feel comfortable. A big deficit budget just lets the 'coalition' partners feel comfortable.
  75. john deere from Canada writes: When these "separatists" were the Quebec Wing of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and later when Harper reached out to his new friends Duceppe and Layton to help him oust Martin all was well in Canada.

    But now it is different.

    And now, only the Conservative Party under Harper can save Canada and Harper is willing to do so even if he has to abandon his true fiscal conservative roots. And he will do so with a backdrop that includes lots of Canadian Flags to dispel any thoughts they is not a true patriot of the Canadian Way.
  76. Systemic Risk from Canada writes: The real story here is that Quebec still runs the country. By voting Bloc (or 'none of the above'), francophone Quebeckers basically make it nearly impossible for either of the main national parties to win a majority (the Libs could only do it, barely, with a divided right and having 2/3rds of their caucus from ON). An interesting aspect that wasn't much reported on was Harper's willingness to give ON all the new seats it deserves in the redistribution for the HofC - this was after he struck out in Quebec in the last election, and an admission that the only way to break the minority stranglehold will be in winning most of those new seats in suburban ON (the ones in BC and AB are a slam dunk for the CPC); though it will not be easy since the Libs will heavily contest these seats too. As Quebecs influence diminishes in keeping with its economy and population (in 2008 Alberta's economy was more than 90% the size of Quebec's with half the population...), it might actually be the tipping point that brings about separation, and possibly an actual merger of the Libs and NDP since running on separate tickets in a 9 province Canada would relegate them to the permanent electoral wilderness.
  77. Andrew B. from Canada writes:
    As many astute observers have already noted, this country will be facing minority parliaments for the next good while. It may now be a permanent feature of our democracy.

    Ignatieff has already - quite rightly - said that Canadians need another election like a "hole in the head". The NDP and Bloc have made it pretty clear they will not be supporting Harper.

    In order to avoid an election, Ignatieff's choices for tomorrow are quite clear:

    1. A Conservative-Liberal coalition with Harper as Prime Minister.
    2. A Liberal-NDP coalition with Ignatieff as Prime Minister.

    Which would you pick?
  78. David Gibson from Hamilton, Canada writes: Mr. Simpson is right: the Coalition was a short work of fiction, which demonstrated that the only way to get the opposition to fight was to abuse not Canadians in general, but the opposition. ... '''The NDP, of course, announced that it would not vote for the budget without having seen it, a testament to its entrenched opposition mentality.''' This is far too kind. The NDP is so entrenched as to not be fit to manage an outhouse. ... As for Iggy, his bluster was well blustered, and he has no intention of bringing the gov't down, and never did. ... He has learned the true value of truth in Canadian politics, and should do well for himself, his party, and lastly, Canada.
  79. Arnold Guetta from Ottawa, Canada writes: Replying to Henry Bollingbroke and Mitch Hourigan, (did I miss anyone?): to elucidate: To some journalists including those silenced by Globe and Mail editors, and to many principled and intelligent readers: "Mathematicians refuse "name your price" and other criminal inducements", * "Ministers,deputy ministers and other public servants extend contracts to mathematicians exposing public graft", * "Justice Canada lawyers award mathematicians $500,000 for law enforcement"* would have made informative and enticing headlines, the very first time (circa George Bain, 1966). They might also have stopped the thievery, and even the Ontario judicial system might have cranked into action. Like the Frauditors General of Canada, Justices revel in the prostituted process popularity of conforming to yesterday's Globe and Mail headlines, true or false. * I again refer you to the Canadian Judicial Council, file 05-0626, (free from the undersigned by fax: our judicial applications tend to be destroyed (Justice O'Connor/Counsel Cavalluzzo), or thieved as with our cash together with the incriminating transcripts. Perhaps the Ottawa Bureau will save us all trouble (and law enforcement their lives,but too late for some: RIP Hobson, Tyas and Parry et al) by a whip-round for the few dollars CJC might charge for the eight or so pages. Arnold Guetta,mathematician
  80. Just In from Canada writes: Systemic Risk from Canada writes: The real story here is that Quebec still runs the country.


    Not true.

    The country will always be split as long as Alberta votes for Alberta Separatists Manning Day Harper Conservatives and Quebec votes for the Bloc.

    Both these separatists whine the same way:

    'we are victims'

    'we want a seat at the international table'.

    But neither of them actually go for separation, because hollowing Canada from the inside is a better deal for them.
  81. richard sharp from Gatineau, writes: I'm Ignatieff and I'm not....

    Coalitions are a natural outcome of any multi-party parliamentary democracy. Far from an "ugly blot," this particular coalition presents a refreshing, progressive alternative to Mr. Harper's failed neo-con agenda.

    The "separatists" (I thought Tories called them sovereignists?) vare not part of the coalition. The Bloc has simply agreed to vote with the Libs and NDP on money bills. This is not veto power, quite the opposite.

    And wouldn't be nice to see the Bloc work collaboratively in Parliament, to help Quebecers and all of Canada.
  82. I'm Michael Ignatieff and You're Not from Canada writes: The coalition of Liberals, Socialists and Separatists is an ugly blot on Canada's reputation. Framers of our Constitution couldn't have dreamed that a coalition govt. would ever include separatists bent on destroying the country. It would be unthinkable and an insult to rural Ontario and western Canada.
  83. Sil T from Mississauga, Canada writes: Why are minority governments so bad anyway? Everybody complains that there's not enough accountability in government, and then in the next breath they bemoan that we can't send one batch of people to steer the ship for 4 years without having to answer to anybody. You'd think the example down south of a guy winning 51-49, and the subsequent 4 years people had to suffer through without any mechanism for removing him as they'd have liked to would give Canadians some food for thought.

    There may be too much bickering in the current minority government for anyone's taste, but that's the fault of the people who comprise it, not the electoral system. The public would be no better off with a majority under any of the current leaders.
  84. Just In from Canada writes: I'm Michael Ignatieff and You're Not from Canada writes: The coalition of Liberals, Socialists and Separatists is an ugly blot on Canada's reputation. Framers of our Constitution couldn't have dreamed that a coalition govt. would ever include separatists bent on destroying the country. It would be unthinkable and an insult to rural Ontario and western Canada.


    Harper abandoned Newfoundland telling them 'I don't need your votes'. Harper incited Alberta Separatists sentiment while provoking Quebec Separatism just so he could keep his job. No other PM has ever been so active in trying to break up the country.

    While I don't care about the coalition, I have to say Stephen Harper is the mother of all separatists.
  85. p lailey from vancouver, Canada writes: Just In from Canada writes
    " No other PM has ever been so active in trying to break up the country."

    Everybody continues to undersell Chretien. Give the man his due. This was the only thing he was the best at. Chretien was sleepwalking while the PQ almost won a referendum to break up Canada. He then introduced the sponshorhip program which gave life to the BQ. He ignored Alberta and most of the West while he concentrated on building support in Quebec. No, the mantle as most divisive PM goes to JC. By a longshot.
  86. Just In from Canada writes: Ed Long from Canada writes: Ed Case writes, 'It's no different from the ridiculous amounts of money spent on airport security: it achieves nothing but the government is 'seen to be doing something'.

    Great analogy.

    Airport security at least make people feel comfortable. A big deficit budget just lets the 'coalition' partners feel comfortable.


    Don't be an apologist for Harper. He is just using this as another opportunity to buy votes. The budget will be structured as the largest pork-barrel Canada has ever seen.

    As usual, the whinny kid will say 'you made me do it'.
  87. joe louis from Canada writes: Thanks for your service to the party Mr. Harper, however it's time for you to step aside. You are a closet Liberal, with possible NDP affinities, no matter what you might have said in the past.

    Actions speak louder than words and today's actions have sealed your fate. Please don't let the door hit your bottom on your way out.

    Fellow Conservatives, let's find a new leader that will represent our values!
  88. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from Vancouver, Canada writes: P Martin from St. John's, Canada writes: The usual GaM article - badly written, a lot of assumptions and full of bias. Add some inflammatory and judgmental words that are neither accurate nor justified and this centralist rag just reached another low.

    The G&M is not perfect, but a heck lot better than that rag that passes for a paper in St. John's; as well as that pathetic attempt at a television station on Logy Bay Road.
  89. Stewart Mawdsley from Fort Smith, Canada writes: Ed Long from Canada writes: Ed Case writes, 'It's no different from the ridiculous amounts of money spent on airport security: it achieves nothing but the government is 'seen to be doing something'.

    Best comment on here.
    Write the Liberal MPs and say NO to this ridiculous and damaging overspending that will devastate Canada's financial situation.

    I'll take a shaky coalition over the massive ballooning of Canada's debt anyday.
  90. David any from Loon-A-Tick, Canada writes: I don't know if someone has said this but the problem with the budget seems to be that the Cons require the Municipalities and Provinces to match the investments in infrastructure. The Muns. and Provs. are broke....therefore the proposed money won't get spent. Therefore the Feds won't need to spend the allotted money.
    It is like saying to an overburdened debtor..."I will lend you a million dollars if you can match it." They go....."Well I have nothing....match that!"
    This is the problem. Otherwise it is a good Liberal Budget.
    Heap Big Smoke But No Fire!
  91. Doug Lippay from Sunderland, Canada writes: To Stewart Mawdsley from Fort Smith.......

    And the coalition will spend less money?? You really need to pay more attention please.
  92. The Mckenzie Brothers from Canada writes: Where's our Obama?
  93. white wolf from Canada writes:

    The Mckenzie Brothers from Canada writes: Where's our Obama?


    and just why would Canada want an Obama?

    do you like narcissism personalities, do you like strong socialism? do you like the same old same old under a different mask

    just curious

    what we need is a Ron Paul not an obama
  94. Prof M H Settelen from Merrickville, Canada writes: Truly wonderful that the Chief Engineer of Via is to have $407M to finally electrify the Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto core so that we shall no longer be embarrassed to receive
    our Swiss, French, German, Italian, British & Scandinavian
    visitors on a less than 21st Century rail system, here in the
    wealthiest per capita Country in the G8! Pip, pip.
  95. Jacques Saint-Cyr from Quebec, Canada writes: The Aboriginals of Canada and the Metis have been living in an economic depression for decades. We the Others suddenly see difficult times and the possibility of a few weeks of unenployment looming, so we very swiflty find 40 G$ to stimulate our economy and protect our way of life. Why did we not find a few billions to help the natives during those long years?

    Ah! That Canadian Spirit!
  96. Gary Thomson from Canada writes: ``For a few moments late last year, without adult supervision...``
    This is the kind of condescending tripe that that has eroded the public`s view of journalism, especially in the field of politics. There are a great many points in favour of or against the wisdom of a coalition gov`t of Liberals-NDP in the current Parliment, at many different levels perspective, but who wants to hear from some condescending journalist who opens with a line like that. I stopped reading, and I usually don`t get too wound up by Simpson.
  97. Freddie Fender from Canada writes: Henry Bollingbroke from Ottawa, Canada writes: "I live in Ottawa -- we're MASSIVELY broke here -- as if we could come up with a billion dollars to access that infrastructure funding!"

    If Ottawa is allegedly broke (which it is not), then reconsider the left-wing politicians who continue to get re-elected to city council. The same sad situation applies to Toronto as well.
  98. richard sharp from Gatineau, writes: Mr. Thompson, I'm with you. Jeffrey Simpson is one columnist whose self-rating vs. actuals is a widening gap. Few more pompous. And so unqualified to play that role.
  99. Jason Hopkins from Canada writes: Jacques Saint-Cyr...

    And just how much money would it take to 'cure' the reservations? A billion, 5 or 10? How much would it take to ensure every indian is happy, has a job and food and is eagerly looking to the future?

    Do we build free houses for you, free university education, free food? Or do we just hand everyone a check? Please advise on how to solve this problem.

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