Monday, February 23, 2009

Ontario PC's: Taking Pleasure in the Misfortune of Others

This story really says it all:
“PCs see opportunity in hard times”

the rapidly deteriorating widely viewed as an opportunity

"People smell blood," said a veteran Conservative backroom operative

"From 2008 to 2009, it's like somebody flicked a switch," said party president Ken Zeise. "It's like, `pinch myself.' This is an amazing year."

So let's get this straight, the Ontario PCs are HOPING that this recession stretches out for another 30 MONTHS so that they'll have an easier time convincing Ontarians to accept a party they resoundingly rejected in the last two elections? The economy takes a dive, unemployment sky-rockets and that makes for an "amazing year"? Well doesn't this tell us everything we need to know about how much John Tory's party really cares about all those suffering in the economic crisis? Oh yes they care, I guess they're just hoping the poor and newly layed-off workers suffer awhile longer so their partisan ambitions can be more easily satisfied.

The Mike Harris fan club want to replace the McGuinty government? Fine. I've yet to hear any compelling reason why they deserve to be anywhere close to government, but is it too much to ask that their try another route to argue their case than one that relies on the prolonged suffering of others?

I guess I should expect no less from the guys that seemed to take pride in beating up on the poor when they were last in power.

And should we be so unfortunate as to still be in a recession in October 2011, in case the PCs haven't realized, the LAST guys Ontarians will want in power in a prolonged recession are the same people that horribly managed the public purse (and blatantly lied about it) and decimated our social safety net.

But sure carry on hoping for Ontarians to suffer for longer and engaging in more Mike Harris adoration as you did this past weekend - you're just showing Ontarians how incredibly out of touch you are.

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James Bow said...

Don't get too cocky about this. There is every potential that people will see a mirror image coming from Ignatieff and the Liberals at the federal level. After all, more than a few Liberal strategists suggested supporting the Conservatives on the budget so they could "wear" the recession for a while.

Danielle Takacs said...

Yes well I'm someone who still wants to see amendments on the budget in committee because I believe now is the time to help the most vulnerable as much as possible. You would't be hearing such comments about "wearing a recession" from me.

Though I would point out that there is a difference between the Liberals and PCs as most people expect another federal election this year and there's no doubt we will still be in a recession through to the end of this year - all we can hope is that the government policies passed do as much as possible to minimize the suffering. But no one predicts the recession will be over by then.

The Ontario PCs though seem to be hoping we are still in a serious recession in 2.5 years and that things don't get better in the meantime. You could argue against both views, but I think it's fair to say that the PC view is far more serious since there are many economists who have predicted we will have turned the corner by then. The PCs seem to hope we don't.

Darryl said...

Warren Kinsella loves to post headlines that paint a gloomy picture of the economy under the title "Why Ignatieff will be Prime Minister". The difference between Tory and Ignatieff is that John Tory has been putting forward warnings and solutions on the recession for years. Iggy on the other hand seems content to just avoid taking positions while hoping for the best (or worst) with the economic crisis.

Danielle Takacs said...

Well you haven't seen any such headlines or posts here. And I don't think any Liberal has been quoted giddily as saying 2009 was an "amazing year" because of the economic downturn like your Party President was quoted as saying (yes he doesn't spell that out directly but really what else has changed for your party from 2008 to 2009 that makes this year "amazing" for you guys from a partisan perspective?). That's where you start to seem like you are happy the economy crashed and that's the Party President speaking. I would be shocked to see Liberal Party President Doug Ferguson saying such a thing.

And I'm not aware of any economic solutions John Tory has proposed but I guess he hasn't had much of the limelight since he lost his seat a year and a half ago. But if those solutions are anything resembling a re-hash of the "common sense revolution" as the majority of his party seem to want then I'd say Tory is clearly in denial about the mess the Harris/Eves government left behind both economically and socially.

Ignatieff and members of his party have proposed ideas (such as on improving EI and others that were in the coalition document), some of which were implemented in the budget and some of which were not. I still hope there will be amendments in committee. And I certainly haven't ever seen him give the impression that he hopes the recession lasts longer than economists expect it to (at this point most economists expect the economy to be at least noticeably on the mend by 2011) as the Ontario PCs seem to be doing. By contrast, he's been proposing ways to help the most vulnerable which is the opposite of what the PCs are used to doing.

And when the election comes there will be a lot more reasons to replace Harper then his poor management of the public finances, while it seems the Ontario PCs don't have much else than a global recession on which to pin their hopes.

Darryl said...

Danielle the main thing that has changed between 2008 and 2009 is that John Tory has a seat (or at least we hope so) and as a result maybe PC members will stop attacking the leader and focus on McGuinty.

On the provincial election, if it wasn't for faith based schools McGuinty would not have won the last election. We defeated ourselves and few would dispute that.

Why throw McGuinty out? All of his broken promises for starters. A deficit that will be larger than Bob Rae most likely after the auto bailouts. Ontario becoming a have not province for the first time. Unemployment numbers up and no strategy on manufacturing. Highest corporate taxes in confederation if not North America. Lowest growth rate among all provinces. Drastic growth in government spending including uncontrolled expenses among his ministers. Failing to help the middle class, small business, farmers or do anything to reduce the impact or prepare Ontario for this recession.

If you are on the left side of the spectrum, we are still using coal power. McGuinty has not uploaded any of the services that Harris downloaded on municipalities. It looks like the teachers are again feuding with the government (the Teachers Federation even had a hospitality suite for us in Niagara Falls) and promises on green energy and poverty have largely been broken.

What legacy does McGuinty have after a term and a half in government? What has he done?

For the first time since being re-elected McGuinty will also face some opposition. Hopefully John will be in the legislature after March 5 and the NDP will have their new leader in time for the budget as well. That means the free ride is over.

With regards to federal politics, I thought the coalition was formed because we needed stimulus quickly (wouldn't have anything to do with party fundraising would it?). Provincially McGuinty has delayed his budget until March 26. Not the quick stimulus that Ontario was hoping for, but hey why should McGuinty follow the lead of every world leader and provincial Premier? We can wait a month. It's not like GM and Chrysler are close to bankrupt right now.

The coalition document was a joke and an idea that backfired as polls showed. Ignatieff had nothing to do with the coalition platform as Dion was leader at the time. I am not even sure if he supported it or not. Kind of like the war on Iraq, the state of Israel, torture, the Conservative budget, Afghanistan, Newfoundland's Atlantic Accords, the oil sands, carbon tax, George Bush and every other issue of the day where it isn't clear what Iggy's position is. Every Liberal (minus Newfoundland MPs) supported Harper's budget as oppose to the coalition platform. Liberals cannot suck and blow at the same time. You either supported a plan you agree with or voted for something you knew would fail for partisan advantage. Either way you cannot be critical of something you helped pass. I would like to think Ignatieff put the country ahead of partisanship by supporting a budget that was ultimately written to appease his demands. Asking for more support for EI or being critical of too many tax cuts is not a solution. Leaders make tough decisions. At this point Ignatieff has failed to show leadership every time a controversial issue has arisen.

I love your blog and read it regularly. I do not expect to see you cheerleading the recession but is Mr. Kinsella not a paid war room staffer of the Liberal Party and Ignatieff?

On a side note, I disagree that this recession will be short. It will be long and painful most likely lasting several years. Virtually everyone has written 2009 off with modest prospects for 2010. Personally I think this article tells the truth about what is really happening with the economy in my opinion. There are no easy magic bullet solutions that the US, Ontario or Canadian government can take.

Danielle Takacs said...

Darryl: Apologies for delay, the electoral reform posts were ones I had ready to go for awhile but today is the first day in some time where I can sit down and write new posts and reply to comments.

"Why throw McGuinty out? All of his broken promises for starters. A deficit that will be larger than Bob Rae most likely after the auto bailouts. Ontario becoming a have not province for the first time. Unemployment numbers up and no strategy on manufacturing. Highest corporate taxes in confederation if not North America. Lowest growth rate among all provinces. Drastic growth in government spending including uncontrolled expenses among his ministers. Failing to help the middle class, small business, farmers or do anything to reduce the impact or prepare Ontario for this recession."

Replace McGuinty with Harper and Bob Rae with Brian Mulroney and you could make almost all the same arguments. I think that's not being truly fair though to either McGuinty or Harper. In reality the global economic crisis has created far greater job losses and deficits than any government can be reasonably blamed for. I would argue though that McGuinty has prepared Ontario better than Harper prepared Canada.

I don't see how Harper's variety of tax credits and the 2% cuts to GST really helped the economy (especially since with the GST retailers mostly upped their prices to compensate - there was a good mini-expose about this on TV awhile back I'll post the link if I can find it).

And you have to admit he budgeted way too close to the line and was foolish to still be predicting surpluses in the fall fiscal update. Remember that McGuinty went from massive deficit to sizable surplus while Harper went from massive surplus to massive deficit - it's quite a distinction that really shows it's a joke to say Conservatives are the best economic manager.

Honestly I believe that if there was no global economic crisis McGuinty would still have a very small surplus and Harper would have a small deficit and that's Parliamentary Budget Officer would agree with the latter. Harper simply doesn't come off like someone who plans more than 6 months ahead and his latest budget showed that too.

So what's McGuinty's legacy? Rebuilding after the damage Harris did to our province:
- More family doctors
- Decreased wait times
- Record investments in PSE
- The green belt
- Becoming the leading province in investments in renewable energy
- Becoming a provincial leader in poverty reduction

And there are many more achievements...

The fact that all John Tory could run on in 2007 was "broken promises" (which were largely a result of Eves' lies about the deficit) pretty well showed that he couldn't really attack McGuinty's actual record in office. Now all Tory has is attacking McGuinty for job losses that are largely a result of a global economic crisis.

But with McGuinty you always get the impression that he is investing in the long-term health of the province. With Harper and Tory they are more interested in putting flashy things in the window that satisfy the wants of the here and now (e.g.,tax gimmicks) than making investments that will still matter a decade from now.

And with the coalition document I said it contained some the ideas of Ignatieff and other Liberals. Ignatieff may or may not have had input into the documents themselves but other Liberals did and many of those ideas did end up in the Harper budget as I said. So it's not true that Liberals have not been proposing ideas to help with the economic crisis.

Finally with Kinsella I believe he holds a volunteer position and I don't think anyone is "cheering for a recession", but he is stating facts and making political inferences from them (e.g., that Ignatieff will be PM). Anyone is free to disagree with the inferences he makes obviously. But I don't think we want to get into a debate of which war room staffer said what because that would bring us to Conservative war roomer Ezra Levant and well we just aren't going to go there...