Canada’s government has experienced shrinkage?

At least according to the Wall Street Journal.

 

“Why Canada is beating America” is a concept I imagine is rarely pondered south of the border, primarily because in that neck of the woods the prevailing opinion is that nobody beats them at anything, ever.  But the Wall Street Journal boldly goes there, and I can’t help being reminded of Rick Mercer’s “Talking To Americans”.  Really, eh?:

 

While the U.S. remains mired in debt and slogs through a subpar economic recovery, Canada is moving ahead steadily. Its unemployment rate peaked at a little over 8.5% and is now 7.4%, and there were no bank bailouts. Real GDP growth is expected to be roughly 3% this year.

And how did we manage this?  Because we apparently “shrank government”.  Yep, and we have a National Igloo and a 65-minute hour!

But the WSJ is missing part of the story.  Canada’s *real* unemployment is a lot higher than 7.4%, since those who’ve run out their EI benefits (and they are legion) aren’t included in the statistics.  Our banks weren’t going hat in hand to the government because financial regulations that many Americans would consider unacceptably intrusive prevented them from engaging in the kind of kamikaze casino capitalism that sunk a few US investment banks and set off a worldwide economic cataclysm in 2008.  (And besides, the banks own this place.)

“Shrank government”… really!?  As far as I can see, government under the Conservatives is just as obscenely bloated as it was under their Liberal predecessors. As the population ages and civil servants wander out to pasture there may be some attrition, but for now we’ve still got big fat greasy, slow-moving, dull-witted government in the fine old Canuckistanian tradition.  AND a Prime Minister who spends like a drunken sailor (my apologies to drunken sailors), on all kinds of dumb shit nobody wants or needs.

The Cons might dream of turning Canada’s government into a highly-functioning, lean mean austerity machine, but the notion that they’ve already done so and are reaping the rewards of their fiscal responsibility (Ha! Hahaha!) is so goofy it makes me wonder if the source material for this article was some Harper Government-approved propaganda from the Canadian Embassy.

14 Responses to “Canada’s government has experienced shrinkage?”


  1. 1 Peter Monday, August 1, 2011 at 3:38 am

    As far as I can see, government under the Conservatives is just as obscenely bloated as it was under their Liberal predecessors. As the population ages and civil servants wander out to pasture there may be some attrition, but for now we’ve still got big fat greasy, slow-moving, dull-witted government in the fine old Canuckistanian tradition.

    Heh. Boy, we’ve sure come a long way from the days when the left was warning that Stevie’s secret agenda was to dismantle government and reverse that noble Canadian tradition of nation-building and social justice through government activism. Harper’s legacy may well turn out to be that he made small government a progressive cause.

    JJ, you seem to be channelling the timeless conservative meme whereby you assume there is all kinds of dysfunctional fat and excess in government that can be cut in the name of efficiency without undermining services or stepping on toes other than those of public service unions. I’m waiting for you to repeat that favourite shibboleth of a certain kind of con candidate–that government should be run according to business principles with an eye on the “bottom line”. 🙂 Like you, I imagine there is indeed plenty of useless fat and excess, but we have to admit many conservative governments in Canada and elsewhere have found it damn hard to identify and isolate.

  2. 2 JJ Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:52 am

    that government should be run according to business principles with an eye on the “bottom line”

    Well no, I don’t think government is meant to turn a profit, its a service. But I see nothing wrong with keeping an eye on things to at least ensure that the peoples’ money is being reasonably well-spent. That should be a pretty universal sentiment across left & right, that we don’t want our money wasted, don’t you think?

    It’s not that conservatives haven’t been able to find waste, it’s just that once they get their greasy little paws on the levers of power, they like to waste money too. They just waste it on different things than liberals. The CPC makes petty cuts to pander to their base and “appear” to be fiscally conservative, but if they were serious about ending waste they’d pull us out of stupid wars, stop putting people in jail for “victimless crimes”, stop this “prison-industrial complex” they plan on building, and stay out of our personal lives. For starters.

    But they aren’t serious about it, and won’t be until they’re back in Opposition 😉

  3. 3 balbulican Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Wait till the February, 2012 budgets. Departments have been instructed to prepare scenarios for range of cuts.

    Significant cuts are going to occur in Departments with oversight mandates – that includes departments like DFO, Health Canada, Transport, and Environment. The excuse will be the end of an appropriation, the “rationalization” of monitoring regimes, or an increased reliance on industry to self regulate. “Soft” programs in departments like Heritage, HRSDC and INAC will also be hit very hard.

    Serious cuts will take place over two years. The last pre-election budget will announce some high-profile, time limited initiatives in the most shattered areas, but NO longer term funding or programs.

    You read it here first.

  4. 4 Peter Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Significant cuts are going to occur in Departments with oversight mandates – that includes departments like DFO, Health Canada, Transport, and Environment.

    I fear balb may be right. Cutting back government, whether in the name of efficiency or ideology, is not for neophytes. Let’s hope that the fact it’s Harper’s third term has given the Cons a little understanding of the behemoth they are running and how it works. The problem tends to be that new Governments roar into Ottawa with a mandate to cut, and issue orders down the line to offer up sacrifical lambs. However, they often have very limited undertsading of the empires they rule and the legal and financial mandates they have. Bureaucrats being bureaucrats, they respond as bureaucrats do–protectively. It’s a long story, but what it often means is that the nice, discreet research centre out in the boonies with little influence in Ottawa is a sitting duck, while the survival of the “Corporate Policy” or “Strategic Analysis” directorates at head office know how to fend for themselves.

    If I were a Con PM elected with a mandate to cut back government, I’d hire balb as an advisor. I’d tell him frequently he was full of shit, but I wouldn’t make a move until I’d heard him out.

  5. 5 JJ Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    balb – The CBC escapes unscathed? 😉 (I personally think the CBC is money well spent.)

    I shouldn’t be surprised, now that the CPC has a majority, that they’d rush in and start blindly doing the cuts their friends in various industries have been lobbying for. The others — ie Heritage Canada — sound purely ideological. I’d like to see what kind of “fat” they’re trimming and how much net savings result. (Like when they cut Status of Women, there couldn’t have been much savings but it devastated the program. However, it excited the base.)

    an increased reliance on industry to self regulate

    …because we know how well that always works out 🙄 Much as I’d like to see business left alone to do its thing and provide its goods & services according to supply & demand without wrecking the environment and treating workers like shit, history has shown that things usually don’t work out this way.

    So they’ll do all these cuts and then what? Save the money for a rainy day? Give it out to their buddies as bonuses? Or redirect it to the Prison-Industrial Complex and their goofy war? One thing’s for sure, we won’t see any of it.

  6. 6 JJ Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Peter – Going by balb’s list, it looks like most cuts will be driven either by industry lobbying or ideology, not any real desire to make the government a lean mean efficiency machine. (Okay, maybe a mean machine.)

    I agree it would be difficult to know where to cut. But I’d probably get my advice on how to solve this problem from someone other than an Oil Industry or Health Insurance lobbyist.

  7. 7 balbulican Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    “If I were a Con PM elected with a mandate to cut back government, I’d hire balb as an advisor.”

    Oy. From your lips to G*d’s ears

  8. 9 JJ Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks for the link.

    Environment Canada would be about the last place I’d look to make cuts, especially of that kind of specialist and with the effects of climate change escalating year-by-year.

    This is total red meat for the climate science-denying base. I’m surprised they’d be so blatant in their pandering.

    Okay, not really.

    I don’t get how they can axe EC scientists, but keep us in a big dumb expensive war that’s going nowhere and killing our kids.

  9. 10 balbulican Friday, August 5, 2011 at 3:39 am

    Au contraire, my dear. Environment Canada is the first place they will cut. And they will cut again in the February budget. Three reasons:
    – it’s a popular move among their ideological base and in the west, a finger to the fucking hippies and envirofreaks that are shackling real growth in Alberta (sorry, I meant in this Great and Might Nation).
    – it’s a defensible move. They can argue that it’s not targeting anyone, just part of an overall round of fiscal restraint (which, curiously, also targeted Environmental monitoring programs when the cons were first elected. Remember that sudden round of program cuts,, without evaluation?)
    – it’s consistent with their one true governing principle, which is get out of governance and let industry regulate itself.

  10. 11 JJ Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    balb – Of course, their base would love it — esp in Alberta.

    I don’t see this kind of cut as being particularly defensible though, outside of the CPC base. Or maybe they think they’re only the government of the people who voted for them…

  11. 12 Bleatmop Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I don’t really see why their base in Alberta would love it any more than their base anywhere else.

  12. 13 JJ Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Bleatmop – Maybe because it might mean the tar sands industry would have less environmental regs to deal with, possibly allowing them to expand.

    I say that very guessingly, as someone who’s totally unfamiliar with the tar sands, other than having heard they aren’t considered environmentally friendly.

  13. 14 Bleatmop Monday, August 8, 2011 at 2:07 am

    JJ – I was asking more of a rhetorical question. I just get annoyed when people play the Big Bad Alberta ™ card. Heavy industry across the nation would rejoice, not just in Alberta. Environmental regulation is an expensive piece of any heavy industries budget. I’m certain the loggers in BC would be quite pleased if they could clear-cut and not replace any trees. Pot Ash miners in Sask, manufacturers in Ontario, fishers in the east coast I would imagine; I’m sure all those regions have something to gain by environmental deregulation. I’m pretty sure all those regions voted in lots of conservatives too.

    I know demonizing Alberta sure worked for Chretien, but it’s kinda backfired since then hasn’t it? Demonize big industry all you want, but it is the demonizing of Alberta by people who espouse leftist views is what causes the centrist majority in Alberta to vote overwhelmingly for the CPC over here, IMO.


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