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Archive for April, 2014

To Jim Flaherty

Jim Flaherty, one of Canada’s longest serving Ministers of Finance, passed away today after a massive heart attack. He resigned just a month ago, being replaced by Joe Oliver. He had previously served in the Ontario PC government of Mike Harris. He was, by all accounts, a dedicated public servant. 

Unquestionably, he leaves a legacy that is to be lauded. He introduced the third Conservative balanced budget in Canadian history, the previous being introduced during the Borden government. After a rocky beginning in the post, during which he managed to unbalance the budget for the first time in nine years, he managed to steer the economy of a G8 country through the economic collapse of 2008. This was no small feat – Canada’s banks, which, along with our resource industry, make up a significant portion of Canada’s economy, were able to weather the storm in far better shape than any of their contemporaries. He orchestrated an economic stimulus plan that was able to stave off the worst potential impacts of the economic disaster.

During his later years at the helm of the Ministry of Finance, he started to put into place a plan that would, eventually (but has not yet, despite some perplexing media reports), lead Canada back to a balanced budget. He was a man that had many tough decisions to make, and he should be admired for the courage and strength that it took to make them.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mr Flaherty. 

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Quebec goes to the polls today.

The question I always have when thinking about the Quebec election is whether or not the province is going to be able to break out of the perpetual federalist-sovereigntist cleavage that it has been mired in for the past seemingly-forever.

It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this election, though the untenablility of the current political system is becoming clear. The PQ are not an exclusively left wing party (and I present no further proof than the candidacy of PKP), nor are the Liberals an exclusively right wing party (as demonstrated by the continued loyalty of PLQ caucus alumnus Thomas Mulcair). This leads to a rather incoherent election campaign where parties do not have to present a unified or coherent strategy to the population without being first tested against their sovereigntist or federalist credentials. It, in effect, means that people have far less of an idea of what type of government they are electing than they by rights should.

I wonder if the only way that the province will be able to move forward politically is if some type of consensus is able to emerge that is able to protect and promote the distinct and different culture of Quebec as a part of a broader Canadian confederation. The party that seemed like it was closest to doing this in recent years was the CAQ, but it appears as if they, like the ADQ before them, will not be able to make the electoral breakthroughs that would be required to produce a durable shift in the electoral landscape.

As it stands, the most politically inept campaign that the PQ has run in recent memory appears to have doomed their government. A Liberal majority seems likely, and Philippe Couillard appears to be poised to become Premier. Then again, this is based on the interpolations of polling, and I have grown skeptical of the ability of Canadian pollsters to deliver the goods. Their recent failures in the BC, Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and Federal elections has made me wary. The nine point error in the BC election stands out – a similar error would transform a Liberal landslide into a PQ minority. Then again, they did get Nova Scotia right.

Best of luck to the Liberals and all federalist candidates tonight. Bonne chance!

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