The Liberals were much more visible this week, taking my advice by taking on Harper on a number of fronts, including childcare. The Liberal team was emphasized, which seemed wise. Dion explained the Green Shift on the Current (podcast here), and was, to my mind, clear and convincing.
The NDP and the Conservatives, meanwhile, were busily injecting a rare note of humour into the campaign. The NDP experienced the resignation of not one but two, toke-smokin’, car-drivin’, former members of the Marijuana Party as candidates for the party in BC, because they apparently didn’t bother to YouTube them before offering them the nomination. And the Conservatives, of course, had the whole “death by a thousand cold cuts” kerfuffle. Am I a bad person because that made me chuckle?
Anyway, this inspired the fourth apology by Harper since the campaign began (emphasizing why he’s so reluctant to let his candidates speak to the media), but the first that seemed to stick. And stick. Please, enough with the calls for his resignation, already! Lack of regulation might be a serious issue here. A dark sense of humour is not.
The US economy provided some excitement, with huge companies collapsing and stocks going on a roller-coaster ride in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. It ended only when the Bush government reversed its laissez-faire policies and stepped in with massive investment. (Fun fact: $1 trillion could buy you 5 billion iPhones. Or 1 war in Iraq.)
Canada never allowed sub-prime mortgages, and so isn’t at risk of this exact same crisis. But there’s a more general lesson here about what happens when governments aren’t involved enough, when companies (banks, meat) that need regulation don’t get it, when governments are downsized to the point of ineffectuality.
[Harper’s] inability to think in a positive, passionate way about large political projects shows starkly at this tense economic moment. In policy, he prefers to act small. His favourite word is modest. “Our plan is simple, modest and practical,” he said about a tax break for home buyers. As if he’d rather do nothing but, in a pinch, will settle for the least possible. His modest GST cuts give little relief, but they whittle government revenues down so he can claim we can’t afford much anyway. This week, he announced a ban on tobacco ads, which are already banned, and sales to kids, ditto. I know this “modesty” reflects Stephen Harper’s political philosophy and he could rattle on passionately about why government should do the least it can, for the good of us all. It’s the reason he wants a majority: so he can do even less and eliminate more. But he may be the wrong leader at the wrong time.