Observed recently: "The notion that public office is a public trust has long been lost as all Canada's institutions...have fallen susceptible to politicization." The quote is from Paul Palango author of "Dispersing the Fog".
In my memory, political expediency versus public trust goes as far back as the "night of the knives" ouster of Progressive Conservative party chief, John Diefenbaker almost 50 years ago. The Liberals were just as cruel, perhaps more so to Lester B. Pearson, arguably Canada's best Prime Minister, following his second minority government election against Robert Stanfield.
Some have even argued that Robert Stanfield was the best Prime Minister Canada "never" had....but I digress. Despite his victory, Pearson's backroom ouster in favour of the rising star, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, was soon to be hatched. Where; you say, am I going with this?
Quote Prime Minister Stephen Harper in last month's Federal Election campaign: "We're not running a deficit. We have planned a realistic scenario. We've got conservative budget estimates. We've got a modest Platform that doesn't even fill the existing fiscal room that we have and we have plenty of flexibility in how we phase it. So that's our policy. We're not going into deficit....this country will not go into recession next year and will lead the G-7 countries." (Release of the Conservative Platform, October 10/08)
Mr. Harper is a trained professional economist. He knew better. Seduced by the all too easy politically expedient, he engineered the October Federal election early precisely because he anticipated his government would be blamed for the unprecedented meltdown of the Canadian economy. The Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, the Member of Parliament from Oshawa (Home of General Motors for Pete's sake!) followed in lock-step with the charade.
On Thursday, after the stock markets close, on a national holiday in the United-States our NAFTA partner, Jim Flaherty will rise and deliver the shameful reality check that the dishonesty of the election campaign trail tried to hide from every Canadian. The crushing reality of the Minister's message will be that of a country in Recession, a ballooning deficit, which some have estimated may top $25-billion; and unemployment rising to a national average near 8 percent.
Just like Lester Pearson 42 years ago, Canadians handed Stephen Harper his own second minority government last month. It really isn't as if any of the other leaders, Stephane Dion or Jack Layton, with their own glib, gilded, unachievable election Platform promises in September and October, would be doing any better at the helm of our troubled ship of state. It is quite simply that the entire election, a referendum on Mr. Harper's leadership abilities, was premised on a shameful, unreal, fabricated, economic house of cards.
The Government knew that an already buffeted economy was being made worse by last year's politically expedient decision to trim a second percentage point from the despised GST. The 7% to 5% cut since the 2006 election has hardly caused a ripple on Canadian wallets...But, Revenue Agency insiders know, confirmed in part by last week's report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, that the dramatic drop in GST revenues (as much as $10-billion) has erased any hope of foreseeable budget surpluses.
Unlike Lester Pearson: Stephen Harper's single-handed, iron-fisted hold on the Conservative Party of Canada assures that there are no rising star successors to challenge the Prime Minister's leadership. We shall all share the pain and pay the price. Wither any brilliant economic rescue Mr. Flaherty may wish to hoist over the country come Thursday.