Should conservatives embrace deficits and debt in order to compete successfully against free-spending progressives? Some voices on the right, contemplating the failure of fiscally conservative platforms in recent elections, say its time to drop the fixation on balanced budgets. Colin Craig pushes back with a plea on behalf future taxpayers: If conservatives won’t protect them, who will?
Month: March 2016
Warning to fiscal conservative purists: this article by Jeff Hodgson contains ideas some may find blasphemous. Why do progressive governments tend to govern more often, and for longer, than conservative ones? It’s because Canadians almost always sell their votes to the highest bidder, and they don’t care about deficits and debts until it looks like they might lose their credit rating. In the wake of the first Trudeau Liberal budget that tripled down on the deficit and abandoned any plan to balance the books, Hodgson’s advice to out-of-power conservatives is stop obsessing about debt and learn to love spending.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave an interview to the New York Times in December that deserved far more attention than it got. “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada,” Trudeau said, adding that Canada is the world’s first “post-national state”. Is that what Canadians will be celebrating when the country turns 150 next year? Mark Milke hopes not, for he contends that a country without a national identity is a country without a future. Trudeau seems not to have noticed, but he may have framed the next big debate between progressives and conservatives.
It seems pretty clear that one of the reasons conservatives are out of power almost everywhere in Canada is because they lost the political debate over climate change. But it’s a debate conservatives could win, writes Mark Cameron, if they look at the science objectively and advocate for solutions rooted in their own conservationist and free market principles. If they don’t, the left will monopolize climate policy, to the detriment of free markets, property rights and effective environmental protection and conservation.
If politics is Hollywood for ugly people, political leadership campaigns are beauty contests for political geeks. But they matter, a lot. Maybe too much. For decades we’ve been imbuing our political leaders with hopes and expectations and dreads and disappointments that no mere mortals could ever hope to live up, or down, to. So it begins again with the undeclared race for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Mathieu Dumont and Paul Bunner sketch profiles of a dozen possible, probable or potential candidates.
Depending how they manage the federation, Canadian prime ministers have been variously described as headwaiters, cheerleaders, referees or dictators. The latter was often attached to Stephen Harper, the supposed autocrat who shunned first ministers’ meetings and allegedly ran roughshod over the provinces. But on his watch, especially compared to the tumult of the Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney eras, there was relative peace in the kingdom: Western alienation and Quebec nationalism both receded. It may be a tough act to follow for new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – the self-described “referee” of the federation – who is already facing a nasty East-West divide over pipelines. D’Arcy Jenish explains.
Among the many conservative hopes that accompanied Stephen Harper’s arrival in office a decade ago was an ambition to toughen the criminal justice system and rebalance the powers of the legislative and judicial branches of government. In Rory Leishman’s view, there was modest progress on the former and almost none on the latter. It was not for lack of trying; the Court Party is just too entrenched in Canadian law and policy-making to be budged by mere elected legislators.
As prime minister, Stephen Harper’s international speeches were often peppered with tough talk about “punching above our weight” and “restoring Canada’s status and influence” on the world stage. From the war in Afghanistan to unequivocal support for Israel to calling out Vladimir Putin to fighting Islamist terrorism, there was scant diplomatic nuance in Harper foreign policy. The moral clarity was refreshing and revolutionary, writes Candice Malcolm. But now “Canada’s back” under Justin Trudeau, in its traditional guise as an “honest broker” and “helpful fixer”, and Malcolm suspects the mullahs in Iran are as pleased as the bureaucrats at Foreign Affairs.