Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stephen Harper and the Incredible Shrinking Surplus

Well it was only a matter of time before somebody totalled up the damage from the plunging price of oil.

Added it to Stephen Harper's reckless decision to spend billions trying to buy votes.

And concluded that the Con regime's mighty surplus has just about vanished. 

The Conservative government’s long-promised surplus for next year is shrinking fast due to recent spending announcements and falling oil prices, leaving virtually no room for new measures in the 2015 budget.

When combined with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement this week of new federal infrastructure spending, that could bring Ottawa’s recently projected $1.9-billion surplus for next year down to about $100-million.

Leaving Harper and his hapless Finance Minister Joe Oliver to count the oily eggs that didn't hatch...

Mr. Oliver’s Nov. 12 fiscal update made significant downward adjustments to federal revenue forecasts to account for the impact of North American crude prices dropping from $98 (U.S.) a barrel in September to $81 (U.S.) a barrel around the time of the update. 

However, the price of oil has fallen even further since, closing Friday at $65.15 a barrel after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries announced Thursday it would not cut its production.

Pray that the price of oil doesn't fall even further, so that their cherished surplus doesn't into a large deficit or a tiny pumpkin...

Desperately trying to hide the price of Harper's War. 

While the Conservative government won’t publicly put a price tag on Canada’s war in Iraq, a Citizen analysis estimates the first week of air operations against the Islamic State cost taxpayers between $2.7 million and $4.1 million. That means if the Canadian military aircraft tasked with helping the U.S. fight ISIL continue flying at their current pace, the initial six-month mission will cost Canadian taxpayers between $60 million and $90 million.

Which will almost certainly reduce what's left of their $100 million shrunken surplus to a heap of smoking rubble.

Full costs, however, would include everything associated with operating the aircraft, including personnel salaries, depreciation and general maintenance. The full cost of the first week comes in at between $8.1 million and $12.1 million – or $178 million to $266 million for six months.

But still defending their reckless decision to try to buy the votes of some Canadians with money they didn't have...

In an interview with BNN Thursday, Mr. Oliver made no apologies for allocating future surpluses before they materialize. “The surplus is not there to look at. The surplus is there to provide benefits to Canadians,” he said

And all I can say is the chickens have indeed come home to roost, and if Stephen Harper was planning to run on his economic record he can forget about that now.

Because after this debacle, nobody but NOBODY will believe that he is a Great Economist Leader...

Which should make it almost impossible for him to win the next election.

Yup, as I said yesterday, the fickle hand of fate has changed everything.

We have them where we want them. At last.

And we ARE going to destroy them...

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rumleyfips said...

Events, dear boy, events.

First the unforeseen event , falsely labeled terrorism by Harper gave him a boost in the polls. Now an unexpected event, $60 oil, is about to give him a boot up the arse.

Anonymous said...

Simon, you must have read that the Chairman of Canadian Natural Resources suggested on Friday that a price of $35 per barrel is possible:

Wasn't it just two weeks or so ago that many of our so called "analysts" were saying that the impact of the oil price drop would not be devastating because of the concurrent drop in the loonie relative to the U.S. dollar (as the oil is priced in the latter)? The long term support level going back 6-7 decades is probably in the $20-30 per barrel range thus the suggestion of $30/barrel is actually very realistic.

But then many of these were the same analysts, who together with Harper and Flaherty, had totally failed to see the recession that was at the end of their noses in the 2008/2009 financial meltdown. Recall that Harper had confidently proclaimed that there would only be a recession if the opposition parties won the last election.

But the real tragedy is that the Liberals and NDP, instead of working together and pointing this out repeatedly to the stupid and disconnected voters, are busy attacking each other over the sexual assault allegations. If these two parties cannot even work together to resove, or at least attempt to resolve a serious issue such as this, how could they ever hope to defeat Harper?

Scotian said...

Anon 12:53pm:

With all due respect, it was the NDP that turned this into a partisan football, not the Libs. So any criticism rightly belongs on them when it comes to the cover it gives the government at a time when they are having their vulnerabilities exposed by outside forces such as these. All Trudeau did was act responsibly, all the outing of identities and all the rest came from NDP sources when it wasn't coming directly from the NDP leadership, and then to cap it off the NDP MP who wants to be anonymous while claiming she was sexually assaulted goes to multiple media outlets with her story weeks after having first gone to Trudeau.

This one the NDP own the rights to, lock, stock, and barrel. I might be willing to grant them some genuine outrage at the very beginning, but it quickly descended into trying to make as much political hay as they could from it, and I suspect even more importantly for them, prevent Trudeau from gaining any positives from his actions here. Indeed, the more that has been revealed about what Trudeau was told the more it makes it clear to all but the most partisan that Trudeau clearly acted in a responsible manner, especially since there was no actual process for him to turn to/rely upon for such a situation between MPs, especially MPs from different parties.

Given just how this government is claiming that all along it was expecting 65 dollar oil in its budget calculation when no one else was this would be a perfect time for the parties to double team him. The problem is Mulcair cannot allow the spotlight to be shared with Trudeau because he is already under so much political threat from him and the Libs outside Quebec (and even inside, because I strongly suspect that if it looks like the ROC is going to unite behind the Libs as the stop Harper vote we will see many Quebec voters do so too, even if normally they would prefer to vote Mulcair/NDP).

The bottom line is that Mulcair and the NDP are not going to work in any way with the Trudeau Libs because they cannot afford it for their own narrow partisan interests, despite it clearly being in the best interests of the nation as a whole and progressive values more specifically because of what the Harper government represents. This is not btw to say the Libs are free from partisanship themselves, but they aren't the party bleeding major support in all but one by-election since Mulcair came to power, they aren't the ones being seen as the third party in terms of actual threat to this government by this government, they aren't the ones not being seen as the likely alternative for government in the polls and media nationally, so they can afford to be more cooperative, especially since ironically that also works for their partisan interests.

This leaves Mulcair and the NDP in a near impossible trap to get out of, and their only real hope is for Trudeau to step on his genitals so hard that it causes a collapse of support leaving the NDP the only possible alternative, and the longer Trudeau leads the less likely that will happen. Even if Mulcair shines in a leaders debate over Trudeau that is not enough I suspect, not at this point, because one thing the Libs have going for them is their record/brand of being responsible centrist COMPETENT government historically in a nation of mostly centrist citizens/voters at a time when an extremist ideological government is clearly wearing out its welcome, lost any benefit of the doubt as to what they really are, and in general has created more ill will in the public than any leader/party in many decades.

No, I fear we are not going to see much signs of cooperation between the parties at this point, I strongly suspect the bad blood that was there already from the leaders on down (although I never got the sense that Trudeau had anywhere near the same negative feelings for Mulcair that Mulcair did for him).

To be concluded...

Scotian said...


The way this issue was twisted to try and attack Trudeau when he looked like a decisive leader taking serious a major womens issue, namely being taken at face value when serious allegations of misconduct, especially sexual misconduct took place in the workplace, really poisons the well of cooperation. At this point why would any Liberal be willing to trust the NDP to expose their backs to in any way shape and form given what they did here? And I know at least some of the Dipper partisans have let their own hatred of the Libs blind themselves to the way their leadership mishandled this issue at every step of the way, ignored basic factual realities, and have only dug their hole that much deeper while claiming it is all the other sides fault.

Indeed, I commend Montreal Simon for NOT walking into this idiocy unlike too many Dippers, while I might have preferred him to call out his side he never stopped keeping his eyes on the main prize, Harper. I think at this point many Dippers in the leadership to the activists know in their guts that the gains they made last time out are clearly slipping away, not just in terms of returning them to third party status but possibly fairly weak status at that. This makes them that much more likely to be extreme and reactive to anything that tries to interfere with their perception that they are the "real" government in waiting, and that Mulcair is the only true leader possible to become the next PM.

I also think that this is especially true given how many signed onto the Faustian bargain Layton made with Harper to let him come to power in exchange for their mutual attacks and hopefully destruction at the federal level of the Liberal party, and instead are seeing all that was sacrificed for that goal being for naught as it increasingly looks for the next election.

I also think there are a lot of Libs from the leadership level on down who are less than happy with the NDP for their role in trying to destroy them as a party and see little reason to work with them when the tide appears to be turning against the NDP and back to the Libs favour. So I rather doubt at this point you are going to see much cooperation comfortable from either side. I do think the Dipper side will be the more aggressive about it because of their current circumstances, but I do not discount the deep anger I have heard from so many Libs about the way the NDP paid more attention in the last three elections to their defeat than they did to stopping/defeating Harper.

The NDP made choices over the past decade that are coming back to haunt them now, and the icing on that cake was the way they tried to garotte Trudeau over this harassment issue instead of trying to actually act like responsible adults. I will freely admit as someone who has felt deeply betrayed by the federal NDP for their willingness to allow Harper to rise to power, and finally majority power, I am feeling a certain amount of pleasure in seeing that their bad choices are not in the end being rewarded as they had so clearly hoped a decades ago, but that still does not change the ugly reality that it makes it that much easier for Harper to pull off a hail Mary win in the end, and that is something beyond anything else what I do not want.

What I personally want to see is Harper lose to Trudeau, and Trudeau get a majority, just to rub it in Harpers face just how much Canada and Canadians repudiate him and his way of governing. Given how much Harper hates anything Trudeau/Liberal I can hardly see a more fitting way to hurt him at this point than this to happen, especially after all he and his have said about how Trudeau was such a lightweight and that he would be no problem to destroy. Whether I see that or not only time will tell, but for me that would be something to see, and hopefully the CPC reduced to third party status with it, the extremist elements purged from its power structure and the older PCPC/Red Tories come back and claim this party for themselves.

Unknown said...

@ $30/barrel there will be no surplus only a major deficit shooting giant Atlas Rocket size holes in Harper's I am an economist and I am great for Canada's economy...

Many other CPC's will jump ship because they will prefer not to be tarred and feathered along with Steve's so-called economy...

Simon said...

hi rumleyfips...yes, events, dear boy, working for us for a change. And at the most perfect time. I don't know which god to sacrifice a cheeseburger to, but if I find out I will... ;)

Simon said...

hi anon...yes I saw that story about the Canadian Natural Resource's chairman and his predictions about where the price of oil might go. I actually had a link to that story in the first draft of this post, but removed it because the post was getting too long. But yes the Cons should have seen it coming when they saw that fracking was flooding the U.S. with oil, and the fact that they still went ahead with the plans to blow the surplus is simply unforgivable.
And yes, like you I regard what's going on between the Liberals and the NDP to be an absolute tragedy. The two parties may have to work together in the near future, and the only thing they should be concentrating on is how to defeat the Con regime. If they don't get that, then we really are in trouble, and should we lose as a result, history will never forgive them...

Simon said...

hi Scotian...I'v stayed away from apportioning blame in this Liberal NDP quarrel because it really makes me very upset. I can't see what else Trudeau could have done, and I also understand what the NDP is saying. But honestly we need to get over this unfortunate episode, and focus on the real enemy. Not just because as you know I refuse to get drawn into partisan battles, but also because it is still very possible that the two parties might have to work together after the next election. Right now the polls suggest that won't happen, But the Liberal government in Quebec is making a lot of enemies with its Con-like austerity program, and that could strengthen the hand of the NDP. And if that happens even if Justin wins the next election it will be almost impossible for him to get a majority, and whether you like it or not, all you partisans are going to have to sit down at the same table. And while I am willing to be the head waiter and serve you all, I'd rather not have knives and forks whizzing around my head. ;)

Simon said...

hi mogs....I'm very impressed that you are an economist. Could I send my tax returns to you please? Because I'm a dummy when it comes to numbers. But I do understand enough to appreciate your point, that if the price of oil goes down that far and stays down for at least a year, Alberta and the Cons are going to be in very big trouble. And the Con failure to come up with an innovative industrial strategy is simply criminal. They will torch our future in the name of their oily obsession and for the sake of all of us in this county we can't get rid of them soon enough...

Unknown said...

You read me wrong I'm not the economist --->Harper "I am an economist and I am great for the Canadian economy..."

Unknown said...

Oil drops again this morning it's in free fall:

Steve said...

Simon do not worry I am one credt away from being an Economist. Plus I had a subscripton to the mag for more than a decade. Ask me any diffiuclt question. For example you wake up in a cornfield and do not know east from west, but you have a nice watch. I appear, take your watch, tell you I have no idea where we are but I have just learned its 10 o clock.

Scotian said...


As you know, I've always placed stopping Harper as my foremost goal, and that I am not actually a partisan of anyone, including the Libs. I don't do the "my party/leader right or wrong" thing, much to the disappointment of my mentor in politics growing up. My desire for the Trudeau majority is mostly rooted in how it will hurt Harper personally and undercut any legacy building he and his try to do after they are expelled from office, not a terribly noble motive I freely admit, but given the pain being Cassandra brought me for over a decade straight I think it is understandable.

As to your point about the parties needing to be able to work together, again do not disagree, the problem however is that especially over the last eight-ten years there has been a lot of bad blood generated on both sides by the other. Now, Dippers had for a long time had issues with Libs over their campaign left govern right (from their perspective) style, and truly believed the premise of Lib Tory same old story, which as I've noted did actually bear some connection to reality with the old PCPC, but as I also noted all along the CPC was something entirely different and there it failed, yet whether they saw that difference or not this did not change the NDP from the leadership on down from continuing this meme to this day did it.

Now, if you were Lib oriented, leaving aside the actions in trying to destroy your party by Layton alongside Harper, just focusing on the equating of your beliefs and party governing history with that of Harper despite the clear factual record showing a wide difference in both degree and nature, wouldn't you find it hard to trust/work with people willing to portray you like that? Especially when those same people have this annoying tendency to pull a holier than thou attitude when it comes to how they practice politics overall to everyone else, especially you?

What I am trying to get at here Simon (not so much for you as I do think you do see a lot of this even if you don't comment on it because your goal is the correct one, Harper first and foremost) is that a lot of Dippers, especially those that have issues with Liberals generally and Trudeau specifically, fail to recognize is that there is a pride on their history in how this nation was developed and shaped into the law abiding progressive nation it had been under their watch. That they may not follow an ideology but that did not mean they were without principles at all, nor without vision/dream for their side. That when it is urinated and defecated on by smearing Harper all over them as being the same as them that it triggers a lot of anger on their side, and this does nothing for helping trying to build any bridges.

What I am saying is the NDP has at least as much to do with why things are so bad these days between the two sides, yet too often it seems to me that the weight of it keeps getting put on the Libs and Trudeau, as if he and they were the main ones responsible, and if I, someone who is not a Lib partisan but only someone leaning their way in this election but who is a generally detached political observer gets that vibe, I would suggest it is a lot stronger for those who are Lib partisans.

There is also the way the Libs were denigrated after the 2011 defeat they took and condescended to by the NDP flush in their victory and the assumption that they had replaced the Libs for the foreseeable future as the only option against the CPC (not to mention blame, remember the “Blue Libs” argument for why the Orange wave was only in Quebec). That the only way for the Libs to survive would be to dissolve and merge as the juniors into the NDP, an argument that used to be the other way around and when it was offended Dippers, yet suddenly when they were the senior side it suddenly appeared reasonable, which only showed the innate hypocrisy at too many of these so called principles first Dipper hearts IMHO.

To be continued...

Scotian said...


I guess my overall point is that the way the NDP chose to handle this issue took what little chance there was of any cooperation and essentially destroyed it, because how can a party/leader trust those that would take this serious an issue and treat it the way they did for political partisan purposes? It made it appear a lot more credible to those that would normally find the idea far fetched about this being planned or held back for later use as a trap for Trudeau, and that is evidence of just how toxic this action was, and how much it reinforces the impression that the NDP is still more concerned with eliminating Libs and Trudeau than they are with Harper and the CPC, despite which is the government and which is the third party.

As to the point about Quebec, I take your point, but I wasn't thinking about that aspect at all. My point was simply that outside of Quebec the NDP have clearly been in major free-fall, are NOT seen as the anti-Harper choice and if that pattern continues by the time of the election it is quite possible that the Quebec vote, including those that are happy with the NDP on many grounds, will still move Lib because for them seeing the Harper government fall trumps all else. That is where I see the real danger in Quebec for the Mulcair NDP, not so much because of anything to do with the Provincial Libs, or even Trudeau himself, but because of just how loathed in Quebec Harper has become, and that to ensure his defeat they would accept the risks of a Trudeau majority as still the better choice.

This is in part what I mean about the NDP being in a very bad political trap Simon. They have to know they are in major trouble nationally, whatever they say publicly, and one of the tendencies of human beings is that the more desperate they feel the more they tend to overreact and demonstrate poor judgement. For me watching Mulcair and the NDP leadership since the day of Trudeau announcing the removal from caucus pending investigation of his two MPs has been watching this behaviour in action.

The first couple of days actions left both my wife and I not just infuriated (she is a multiple rape survivor who has had shall we say less than positive experiences with law enforcement and whose own natural default is to always believe an accuser, was pleased to see a party leader appearing to do so and to give that the weight she believes it always deserves) but also very puzzled, because to us taking our emotional responses out of it and just looking at it purely politically it struck us as just bizarre behaviour, and lacking in both political and common sense. When viewed though in the lens of an increasing fear and desperation regarding the threat posed to the NDP by Trudeau and his Libs next election, well then it does unfortunately make more sense, if not something one wants to see.

This is unfortunately meaning that as much as I want to agree with you about this needing to be got over and focusing on the real enemy, Harper, the fact that it got treated this way by Mulcair et al indicates that at least on their side that sense of Harper as the greater threat/foe is clearly lacking. I'm not saying the Libs don't also have their conflicts with the NDP, from where I watch though they seem to be more focused on Harper first and foremost and the NDP a distinct second, and even there at least some of it is in reaction to actions from the NDP against them and not initiated from them.

Frankly, my view is that the Libs would be just as happy to focus all their attention of the Harper CPC at this time and trust in the voters to choose between then and the NDP at the polls, which I think is also part of why the NDP act the way they do, they know they cannot allow that to happen because of how potent the Lib brand is historically, and especially when combined with the name of Trudeau, and when combined with how well Justin Trudeau connects with people, well that really places the NDP at the disadvantage.

To be concluded...

Scotian said...


As I have noted many times, this nation is more centrist than anything, which is why traditionally parties with ideologies that are far from the center from either left or right did not do well. Harper snuck his in at a time where conditions were maximally in his favour, and even then it took three elections, the active aiding by another leader (Layton), the weakening of the Libs from scandal and governing exhaustion, and finally a leader (Ignatief) so weak and bad he drove away many core Lib voters after having divided the party and undermined the prior Leader, Dion from the outset.

Even then Harper managed a very small majority, and now that his extremism is full exposed I strongly suspect there will be a backlash, but not to the other side like a pendulum, but to the center, which is clearly what the Mulcair NDP are increasingly afraid of, and which is why for them the greater threat is Trudeau and the Libs, and which is why I hate to say I just do not see that cooperation coming any time soon before or even after an election, and that the primary motivation for that comes not from the Libs but the NDP and Mulcair, and does so from fairly basic political/power realities/imperatives, which makes it that much harder to see it stopping.

Like I said before Simon, I am glad you stayed out of this fray and focused on the true enemy, Harper. You are someone I trust who is traditionally NDP in your political preference because you see the truth in this, that whatever one wants to say about the Libs, they are nowhere near what the Harper CPC are in terms of threat for us all. That Harper is something unique and alien to our politics, and that his removal must be job one at all costs.

Indeed, if the NDP were the NDP of old they would clearly have seen this all along and taken the short term hit to stop him and almost certainly have been rewarded in the end for being so principled by becoming government after the next election called by Martin given the electoral and governing fatigue with the Libs then. Even now, if the NDP took the hit but focused solely on the removal of Harper it could in the long term actually help them come back to LOO and again argue they deserve being trusted with governing power, especially after they had demonstrated they placed the good of the nation ahead of their own narrow power interests at this time. It is not a given of course, but then nothing in life or politics is, but it is clearly not an unreasonable argument to make, not all that unlikely a future to see happen.

But Simon, I don't think we are going to see it happen. I think the Mulcair NDP are going to continue making the wrong choice here and not only avoid cooperation but actively undermine the possibility of it because they simply cannot appear to give Trudeau any credibility as a leader, nor the Libs as a viable choice. Of the two parties and leaders it is the NDP and Mulcair that has the far greater pressures on them in this respect, the Trudeau Libs are on the rise, they look much less combative than either Harper/CPC and Mulcair/NDP, and they hearken back to an older style of politics practised in this nation that many people are yearning for after what the last decade has brought them. It is not in their interests to appear overly hostile to the NDP for cooperation, indeed it is in their interests to appear more moderate and reasoned this way, and they have in regards to this harassment issue, which only underscores my point about where the real pressure for undermining cooperation comes from.

This is a sad truth Simon, and I do wish it were other, but it is how it looks to me in terms of the power dynamics involved on all respective players.

P.S. I won't keep on about the harassment issue with you Simon, I'll respect your choice on that, now that I've made the points I felt I needed to in regards to the wider implications I see coming from them where our mutual goal is concerned, the defeat of Harper.