Stephen Harper is at war with the twenty first century. Anything to do with the reality of the modern world is anathema in the cosmology of this theocratic whackjob and his muzzled minions. Only the inability of the Liberal party to get it's act together, and its own failure to exhibit genuine leadership has allowed this mean little man to pretend to be President of the Republic of Canada and thumb his nose at hundreds of years of Parliamentary tradition with the support of approximately 15% of the eligible voters in Canada.
The reputation that Canada has built since the days of Lester Pearson as an "honest broker," helping to resolve disputes between countries is in shreds. Harper is bound and determined to fill the war-monger of the world shoes vacated by the Bu$h/Cheney discredited war criminal regime. When even the US, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton being critical of the recent Israeli piracy on the high seas, steps back from its free pass for any thing Israel does, Stephen continues his policy of praising everything the Zionazis do. Even when that involves killing Canadian families or worse yet, Canadians serving as UN observers. This born again cowboy from Toronto is more supportive of Bibi the Butcher than even sane moderate Jewish people in and out of Israel.
Then there is the embarrassment of Stephen hosting a G-8 and G-20 and dedicating it to the health and welfare of women and children, as long as nothing offends his fundamentalist views of family planning. Again with his reactionary posture on this issue he earns a well deserved scolding from the woman who has bravely taken on the task of acting as his surrogate mommy, Secretary Hillary.
Then there is the pure slapstick of sending Stevie to any environmental summit where his dinosaur defense of the icky goo pits and his pro-oil, coal and gas stance and desire to de-regulate nuclear power (or let somebody else make medical isotopes) makes him the center of mocking attention from the real environmentalists. In other word those who haven't sold out like Dr. Suzuki and Ms. Berman - Kermit "It's hard to be Green" Campbell's sock puppets.
But this week Stephen is concentrating on yet another wrong-headed cause. Our man who should be in Ottawa, dealing with Canadian issues is on tour in Europe trying to defend the poor banks and financial institutions from the threat of any kind of accountablilty for driving the world to the abyss of a REALLY EXTRA GREAT DEPRESSION! He is correct that Canadian banks did better than say the grifter US financial swindlers, and mainly because of a stricter regulatory regime. However the only reason Canada had a stronger regulatory regime is that Harper and his neo-cons hadn't been in government long enough, or had a strong majority, that would allow them to dismantle it, just as the US regulations had been dismantled from Reagan through Bush the Lesser - not that he wouldn't have if he could have.
Therefore it is irony and hypocrisy to the Nth degree for Harper to be strutting around the world telling PM Cameron and President Sarkozy and the rest of Europe what they should do. Mind you these gentleman, who seem much more intelligent than our guy, in spite of their lack of voodoo economics degrees from the University of
Stephen's big line lately is that it wouldn't be fair to penalize the poor banks, because we didn't have to bail out our banks here in Canada. Murray Dobbin put the lie to this at the end of May with Believe it or not, we did bail out our banks, which somehow snuck itself onto the editorial page of the Canned Waste Vancouver Sun.
The sorry spectacle of Conservative cabinet ministers flying around the world defending banks from a tax to cover their next, inevitable, meltdown is bad enough. What is perhaps worse is that it is being largely justified by the perpetuation of the myth that Canada did not have to bail out its banks.
We are, according to the IMF, the third worst of the G7 countries, behind the U.S. and Britain, in terms of financial stabilization costs.
First, we put up $75 billion to buy up iffy mortgages from the Big Five banks, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, taking them off the banks' balance sheets. That is almost the exact equivalent of the U.S. bailout -it spent 10 times as much, $700 billion, and its economy is about 10 times as large.
Second, the Harper government established a fund of $200 billion to backstop the banks -money they could borrow if they needed it. The government had to borrow billions -mostly from the banks -to do it...../snip
If Canadian banks are such paragons of conservative virtue and prudent behaviour, why did the federal government have to relieve them of mortgages that, presumably, were all carefully vetted and the borrowers scrutinized?
The reason that the odd person in a coma can buy the argument about the success/strength of the Canadian financial system, or buy into the lie, is explained more bluntly by those fine folks over at the Galloping Beaver.
Now we are pelted with a constant harangue of Harper telling everyone, including the world, that he commands the world's most stable banking system, and that the Canadian government never bailed out Canadian banks.
Harper and his sock puppets are blatant liars.
Canada did bail out its banks. The difference between the way Canada did it and the methods of any other capitalist democracy is that Canada did it "off book". In other words, it was never a federal budget item. Instead, the charge went against certain Crown Corporations as liabilities.
Sneaky? Yup. Dishonest? Absolutely.
In the same post, the Galloping Beavers also point out how it was partly things done, or not done, by Paul Martin when he was finance minister that saved the Canadian banks from going the way of Bear Stearns, or suddenly being born again socialists begging to be bailed out by the taxpayer.
Canadian banks were a constrained bunch of animals which, had they gotten past the finance minister known as Paul Martin, would have created three Canadian mega-banks and would have failed as spectacularly as any of the fallen in the US they lusted to become.
....In one swoop, the finance minister (Paul Martin -koot) made it clear that government, not business, will decide what shape the country’s banking sector is allowed to take in the years ahead.
Oh, and didn't the banks make it obvious how goddamned furious they were.
But, what Martin had done was to ensure that a single bank failure would not be enough to lay waste to the Canadian economy. The Milton Friedman formula had no place in Canada. Martin was certain that one day, perhaps after he was gone, Canadians would thank him for his stand.
Then came Harper.
Harper handed the reins over to the banks. Luckily he was constrained. There wasn't enough time for the banks to rebuild their old merger deals and Harper, with a minority government, didn't have a lengthy enough forecast lifespan to guarantee the banks enough time to root themselves in a three bank national model.
Now there are those who agree with Pee Wee Harper, for example, THE BANKERS, what a surprise! Nancy Hughes Anthony, President and CEO of the Canadian Bankers Association, to no one's great surprise takes issue with Murray Dobbin in particular. She says in "Canada's banks well-managed and well-regulated, despite Dobbin's tale" that:
his story is pure fiction.
and that's pretty much all she offers. She doesn't address the "$75 billion to buy up iffy mortgages" or the "fund of $200 billion to backstop the banks" to be borrowed from the banks (like how can they lend it to us if they need it?). I guess we are just supposed to take her word for it, despite the lack of any semblance of FACTS to support her nakedly self serving position.
At least with Stephen gallivanting around the world lecturing his betters, we get to be treated to the spectacle of John "half pitbull, half human" Baird drooling and exhibiting all the symptoms of rabies in the House of Clowns that used to be a Legislative body, once upon a time. I mean what could be more entertaining that watching Mr. Baird and Helena "not so gorgeous" Guergis exchanging pleasantries?