rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

The Conservatives haven't a clue

As the Canadian economic crisis deepens with new layoff announcements every day, with the economy shrinking, and with Canadians anxious about their own future and the future of their communities, the Harper government still has not figured out how serious things have become.

On the eve of the budget, we already knew enough to say that what the Harper government will unveil tomorrow will not be remotely sufficient to stem the loss of jobs and to put Canada on the path to sustainable recovery.

The Conservatives have announced that over the next two years the Government of Canada will have a $64 billion deficit, $34 billion this year and $30 billion next year. At least half of this deficit flows directly from the tax cuts the Harper government has already made. As for stimulus -- the injection of new direct government spending into the economy -- we are to have precious little of that.

At a news conference yesterday John Baird, the minister in charge of infrastructure, announced that the government will announce at least $7 billion in new infrastructure spending in tomorrow's budget. The minister broke down the elements of the program as follows: $4 billion for infrastructure projects to be carried out by provinces, territories and municipalities; $2 billion for repairs and new construction of universities and colleges; and $1 billion for green infrastructure projects.

Although he seemed confused about the details, the minister said that this spending is to take place this year and next. If this were to occur -- and remember that most of the infrastructure spending announced by the Harper government in its last budget never materialized -- we are talking of spending of about $3.5 billion a year.

To put numbers like this on the table to relaunch an economy with a $1.5 trillion GDP is a bad joke. This level of stimulus would do next to nothing to turn the economy around.

Are the Conservatives really proposing to leave it up to the Obama administration to provide the stimulus to pull the Canadian as well as the American economy out of the doldrums? That's what the puny numbers Ottawa has released so far would indicate.

Today, when we get the full budget, the key will be the overall number for direct government spending. Without direct federal government spending of at least $50 billion in 2009 and again in 2010 ($50 billion is about three per cent of Canada's GDP), Ottawa's efforts will leave Canadians floundering in the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.