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June 28, 2005
Woe, Canada: CEOs

Canadian business leaders have begun to sound the alarm over what they perceive as a threat to the Canadian economy from minority government rule. The Canadian Council of Chief Executives warn that the excessive political game-playing will undermine the basic economic structure of the nation as politicians play with taxpayer money to protect their jobs:

Canada's top CEOs are warning that a failure of leadership by Ottawa on the economy has left the country without a long-term strategy to survive increasingly brutal global competition.

In a declaration being released today, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives said the minority-government situation has left federal leaders preoccupied with short-term politicking -- and prone to excessive spending.

"As a political entity, Canada is a nation adrift," said the business group representing 150 leading CEOs.

Prone to excessive spending? No kidding. Paul Martin in the past month alone has given out billions of dollars in new tax revenues to convince the NDP to formally align itself with the Liberals. This comes on top of the hundreds of millions spent on the Sponsorship Program, a good chunk of which wound up in Liberal pockets. Martin has opened up the Canadian treasury to protect his position as Prime Minister, and the bills will come due very soon.

What does all this excessive politicking and big giveaways mean for Canada in the long run? First, just from a mechanical point of view, the Commons has for the last several weeks done little more than play strategy games to see whether the government could survive after the revelations of widespread corruption in the ruling Liberal Party. Despite deserving to get the boot, the Liberals have outboxed the Conservatives since April, but during that time did little to address the overall agenda. The only significant bills that have moved through the Commons have been budgets and the gender-neutral marriage issue, and only for their status as potential confidence motions, or in the case of C-48 to buy off Jack Layton and the NDP.

As the CEOs state, this sells Canada's future short, especially in a time when the nation should be focusing on efficiency, productivity, and capital investment in the future:

The CCCE plans to unveil its own "Canada First" strategy for the country before the next election, expected by early 2006.

The CEOs want the national debate to switch to strategies for cutting excessive spending, taxation and regulations -- and away from endless partisan wrangling in Parliament.

"In the political arena, the very idea of strategic policymaking is drowning in the swirling search for momentary tactical advantage," they said.

The Tories have an excellent opportunity to take the CEOs' challenge and make economic streamlining their platform, as well as a credible program to remove the kind of corruption uncovered by the Gomery Commission from Canadian government. This program fits almost perfectly in a Conservative movement, and puts a competent, consistent, and forward-looking face on the Tories that the past six weeks have failed to achieve.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 28, 2005 6:28 AM

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