Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It is true that almost no one could have anticipated this rapid descent of the world's economy towards a cataclysmic abyss.

The whirlpool-like unwinding of years of exuberance and excess in the United States of America has caused the world to stand still, however briefly, and ask itself whether the American economy, and unfortunately its tied-in partner Canada, still deserve the pedestal from which much of the planet's business over the last half of the 20th century was controlled, nay manipulated.

Canada's Prime-Minister, Stephen Harper, an economist by profession, former head of the National Citizens Coalition, a seasoned politician, has ignored at his peril it seems, surely what must be his own instincts from years of training and education. Perhaps no one could have guessed that Canada's faltering economy would become the single defining issue of this mid-October election. But, by waiting too long and not adequately dealing up-front with this crucial issue, Mr. Harper has likely let slip by, once again, the momentum the Conservatives need to score a majority government one week from today.

I say "once again", because as Columnist Brian Laghi reminds us today in the "Globe & Mail", Mr. Harper's last two national campaigns in 2004 and 2006 also faltered in the waining days of the electoral process. Perhaps the defining issues ("adscam" in '06 for example)) were not as critical then as the problems at hand now. Clearly, from experience and education alone Stephen Harper would appear amongst all leaders best equipped to slay the economic dragons which assail our country.

A weekend editorial I read described the Prime Minister's attitude as coming from someone isolated in an "iron bubble". Neither he, his handlers, nor his party it seems anticipated the concerns of Canadians...and if they did, how to deal with the mounting clamour for the leadership qualities the country expects from its Prime Minister, one who is an economist on top of everything else.

In the face of the mounting concerns, some might suggest despair, it was the hastily assembled meeting of the country's five top bank economists with business leaders Monday morning in Toronto which may have convinced Mr. Harper that the "fundamentals" aren't so steady after all. The Government....well the Bank of Canada moved: pumping $20-billion of liquidity (up from $12-billion on Friday) into the market. Mr. Harper subsequently wouldn't rule-out that there are tough times ahead which could lead to a national deficit. A plan, any plan, to deal with this crisis though isn't yet forthcoming.


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