Merry Christmas! Remember neocon Ontario premier Mike Harris and his catastrophic “Common Sense” Revolution? Ontario is still trying to dig its way out of that ideological train wreck.
Jim Flaherty was elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1995 and after 1997 served in a number of posts in Mr. Harris’s cabinet, ending up as finance minister and deputy premier. As such, he must be given credit for being one of the principal architects of Mr. Harris’s cut-everything, deregulate-everything, privatize-everything approach to government that reached its logical nadir in the Walkerton mass poisoning of 2000, Canada’s Bhopal.
Faced with the stubborn refusal of Canadians to give him a majority that would set loose his neocon wrecking crew, Prime Minister Harper has been trying hard to fly under the radar on his fundamentalist economic beliefs.
But the federal Conservatives’ private polling must be looking up, judging from Mr. Flaherty’s pre-Christmas promise to start axing government programs and selling off public assets. Either that, or Mr. Flaherty’s remarks, reported Dec. 23 in the Toronto Star, were just an ideological oopsie.
Whatever, one thing you can say about neocons like Messrs. Flaherty, Harris and Harper is that they’re consistent. If times are good and the economy is booming, they argue funding cuts, deregulation and privatization are needed. If times are bad and the economy is the dumps, they can be depended upon to call for funding cuts, deregulation and privatization. If it’s pretty well established that the cause of the country’s economic problems was funding cuts, deregulation and privatization, well, guess what, they’re sure to tell you more funding cuts, deregulation and privatization are the answer!
If we face the prospect of a deficit, God forbid the remedy proposed should be a modest increase in corporate taxes. Nope, it’s always funding cuts, deregulation and privatization. Plus lower corporate taxes, of course.
They’re like a doctor who prescribes brandy for every ailment – including alcohol poisoning!
Whatever the reason, Mr. Flaherty told the Star in a year-end interview that what 2010 holds for Canadians is funding cuts, deregulation and privatization. Have to fight that growing deficit, you see.
Indeed, deficit fighting has been the neocon excuse of choice to justify cutting fair and effective public services for more than 30 years. It’s mostly been smoke and mirrors, used to excuse eliminating programs neocons want to dump anyway for ideological reasons. For, as history proves, no one can run up a deficit like a “fiscal conservative”! (Harperite spending, for example, has grown at a rate of 7 per cent a year since 2006.)
What gets cut? “Programs for human rights, women’s issues, museums, youth employment,” to quote the Star’s partial catalogue of Mr. Flaherty’s first crack as federal finance minister at trimming Canadian spending. What doesn’t? “Public private partnerships,” which would better be known as outright subsidies to business, tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy and the corporations they own, and military spending.
So now Mr. Flaherty is looking for more programs to chop, he explained, as well as publicly financed assets to sell off for a song to the government’s cronies. Why? Well, you see, we need to restrain spending growth, he said, and trotted out the usual neocon folderol.
“I’ve done it before,” he bragged. “I did it in Ontario.”
Personally, I’m sort of relieved to see it put that bluntly by the finance minister. What’s the difference between the Harris Conservatives and the Harper Conservatives? … That’s right! Just as Mr. Flaherty implies, there is no difference.
He’s done it before. He intends to do it again. He’s proud of it.
Merry [BLANK]in’ Christmas, Canada. And Happy [BLANK]in’ New Year too!