The world needs a new conservative leader. Almost unfathomably, its best hope is now a quiet, steely Canadian. And he’s currently teetering on the brink where every other conservative leader has folded.
Only a couple of weeks ago, Canada’s Conservative government was headed for defeat because of its steadfast opposition to rewarding epic failures with cash prizes -- more commonly known as “bailouts”. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper adjourned parliament a couple of weeks ago to preempt a political coup by opposition Liberals and their separatist and socialist comrades. They were upset that Harper slammed the treasury’s till shut on their little fingers. He was rewarded with 45% support from the Canadian public in a multi-party system -- nearly a full 10% more than he had in October’s federal election, and 5% more than he would need to form a majority government if an election was held today.
Then Harper blinked. Knowing that he will have to return to parliament and resume this drama when his budget is tabled at the end of January, his party is now showing signs of insecurity and talking bailouts, starting with a possible $3 billion for the Big Three American auto companies. Dad (America) has been a bit too slow on the draw with cash for smokes and booze, so the kids are hitting up mom (Canada), who sees this as a chance to score some popularity points. None of this will ultimately help the kids become independent any faster.
Harper’s opposition to bailouts has been the message all along, until this recent wavering. Canadian banks were made to do without -- and rightfully so. Even UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said at the G20 Summit in Peru this Fall that Canada’s economy is doing well in relation to other countries. Maybe that’s because Canada hasn’t treated the economic equivalent of a headache by whacking itself over the head with a tire iron, like almost every other developed country has been doing.
In November, Harper’s Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, said: “Nobody wants to see taxpayers' money taken -- and then in effect wasted -- where a company is not going to survive ... we want to see the plan for survivability.” He added, without any hint of irony, that the plan should involve hybrids and other cars that no one else wants to buy, and proven bankruptcy facilitating “environmental technology”. Here’s a better plan: Back off and quit telling them what they have to do. Let them figure it out. A crash pad stuffed with cash won’t provide them with any incentive to excel -- just like the best trapeze artists, the ones who stay on the bars, don’t have any safety nets. That’s not a coincidence.
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