Thursday, December 18, 2008

ABCP Smackdown: Mark Carney vs Jim Flaherty

CAITI Online Poll On Asset Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP) Bailouts.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney:

The response to the recent turbulence in financial markets should reaffirm that market participants are fundamentally responsible for their actions. For example, investors must understand the price dynamics and liquidity risks of the products they buy, rather than relying solely on credit-rating agencies. The market is beginning to lead many of the necessary changes, as institutions are improving their liquidity management and credit discipline and as originators and distributors of new loans are beginning to adjust their products to standardize terms and, importantly, align incentives. At the same time, accurate and timely information about underlying risks is essential for the market to differentiate and properly price risk. Thus, as Governor Dodge highlighted in September, enhanced disclosure and transparency remain crucial. Standing Committee on Finance December 5, 2007

In comments following an address to a business luncheon in Toronto on Wednesday, Mark Carney said the Canadian economy is strong enough to withstand the collapse of the massive restructuring, which has come under huge pressure as a result of the financial crisis. National Post December 17, 2008

Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in Saskatoon that he and some of his provincial counterparts are discussing a plea from the investor committee overseeing the restructuring for as much as $9.5-billion in backstop credit lines, but no decision had been made.

The fact that Mr. Flaherty is even considering the request is a significant development, given that until recently his position was hands-off. Globe and Mail December 18, 2008

BoC Governor Mark Carney said "There was not going to be any public money put behind any of this [ABCP rescue plan] because these are decisions of financial market participants." Jim Flaherty now proposes to rescue these same financial market participants.

88% think Harper's decision to suspend Parliament is undemocratic

Worse is that Mr. Harper continues to actively misrepresent the events of the past several weeks and the motives of his opponents. "We only found out [after the economic update] that they've been planning to overturn the results of the election ever since election night," he said. In fact, there is nothing to suggest that the opposition had any prior intention of toppling the government, and the disarray the Liberals quickly fell into suggests the prospect surprised them as much as anyone.

Nor would the opposition have been "overturning the results of the election," as Mr. Harper repeatedly alleged. Although a coalition government may be politically untenable, it would be entirely within the boundaries of parliamentary democracy - not a coup attempt, as the Conservatives continually claim. The Globe and Mail December 17, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ignatieff 57% Rae 27% Leblanc 16%

Looks like ongoing events mean the CAITI online Liberal leadership poll need modification.

The previous 3 way race results are here:

The 2 way race poll is active on the side menu.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Does this sound like anyone we've observed this week?

ICD-10 Criteria for Dissocial Personality Disorder - Wikipedia

   /dɪˈsoʊʃəl/ Spelled Pronunciation [di-soh-shuhl]
disinclined to or unsuitable for society; unsocial.

Origin: 1755–65; < LL dissociālis irreconcilable, equiv. to dis- dis- 1 + sociālis sociable

The dissocial personality disorder is described by the World Health Organization by the following criteria:

  1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
  2. Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
  3. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.
  4. Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
  5. Incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
  6. Marked proneness to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict.
  7. Persistent irritability.
Related? You decide:
PM partisan, passionate and profane - Toronto Star
Maybe Harper’s not as smart as we thought - Chronicle Herald

Friday, December 5, 2008

Conservatives scared into earlier action

Opposition parties force Conservatives to move up budget 2 months earlier

The intent of the Opposition was to help Canadians this winter with an economic stimulus package and they were partially successful.

The Conservatives did not plan to introduce any new measures to stimulate the economy until the next budget is tabled in March 2009. Flaherty says no economic stimulus package to come in economic update Nov 24, 2008
Why scaring the Conservatives into action is a good thing for Canada:
One of the key forecasters that the federal government depends on to crunch its budget numbers says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's update last week would extend the country's recession and exacerbate the threat of deflation.

In last week's fiscal update, Mr. Flaherty argued that his previous tax cuts are stimulating the Canadian economy by about $31-billion - and that's why he didn't have to take additional measures right away, even though his own forecasts show the economy is set to contract this quarter and the first quarter of next year.

That's faulty math, counters the Centre for Spatial Economics, one of four firms the Department of Finance depends on to provide thorough economic forecasts upon which the government's budget track is based.

"This is a fantasy," said Robert Fairholm, the centre's director of economic forecasting. "Most of the short-term stimulus from these measures have already boosted economic activity, and so will not continue to provide [a] short-term jolt to growth."
Flaherty's plan prolongs the pain, forecaster says - Report alleges minister's math is flawed Heather Scoffield, Dec 4, 2008
Canadians lost 71,000 jobs in November – almost triple expectations – and the unemployment rate crept up to 6.3 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday. That's the biggest month of job losses since the recessionary period of 1982, and puts the unemployment rate at its highest point since November 2006. Canada loses most jobs in 26 years Heather Scoffield, Dec 5, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Pyrrhic victory

Conservatives say FU stands, Canadians can freeze in the dark until Jan 26

A Pyrrhic victory (IPA: /ˈpɪrɪk/) is a victory with devastating cost to the victor. Wikipedia

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a bid to suspend parliament, blocking an opposition attempt to topple his new government. The governor general agreed to Mr Harper's request, unprecedented in the country, after talks. If the request had been rejected, he would have had to step down or face a confidence vote he was sure to lose. Canada halts parliament amid row - BBC

The main opposition Liberals agreed Dec. 1 to form a coalition with the New Democratic Party in a bid to accelerate a stimulus package for the economy and oust the Harper government. The separatist Bloc Quebecois wouldn’t be part of the government though agreed to help it pass any legislation deemed matters of confidence. All three opposition leaders say they’re still committed to defeating Harper when Parliament resumes. Harper Suspends Canada Parliament to Avert Defeat - Bloomberg News

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has shut down parliament, sparing himself from a no-confidence vote that he was likely to lose. Canadian PM Shuts Down Parliament to Avoid No-Confidence Vote - Voice of America

So how did we get here? The answer depends on your perspective.

In a simplistic reading, our present situation is a direct result of what happened last Thursday. That day, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stood in the House of Commons and delivered his government’s fiscal and economic update. Presented as a national plan at a time of profound economic crisis, it included promises to eliminate subsidies to political parties, tamper with the public service’s right to strike, and fiddle with the system through which women are able to seek equal pay for their work.

It seemed designed only to corner the opposition. So challenged, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois found themselves with common cause and interest. Enter the coalition. And under threat of forced exit, the Prime Minister retreated to Rideau in search of reprieve.

That is the short version.

In the longview, it is the latest chapter in what is now an epic and troubling story.

In-and-Out. Chuck Cadman. Afghanistan. Torture. Linda Keen. Arthur Carty. Marc Mayrand. Dalton McGuinty. InSite. Listeriosis. Crime. Science. Academia. Elections Canada. Omar Khadr. Gordon O’Connor. Maxime Bernier. Canadian soldiers. The Military Police Complaints Commission. The ethics committee. The press gallery. CAIRS. Access to information. The federal budget. The economy. The recession.

The emblem of this government has become a furious male face screaming indignation in the arena of our democracy. At every turn, the response has been to obfuscate, manipulate and demonize. Everything has been opportunity to divide. Truth has been tangential. Ethics and morals have been deemed quaint. The Game has superseded all. Short-term political advantage is all that’s mattered. Nothing worth doing if it is not in one’s own personal interest. The Commons: A cold and miserable day - Aaron Wherry, Macleans

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Harper explained in 4 minutes or less

The past and future tense - Aaron Wherry, Macleans
‘A lot of fear and anger and hatred’ - Aaron Wherry, Macleans

It's time for Harper to move aside

Orillia Packet and Times

December 3, 2008

Letter to the editor:

It would appear that Canada will soon have the centre-left, progressive government that the overwhelming majority of Canadians, 62 per cent to be exact, voted for in the recent election. Despite the protests and laments of the Conservatives, who earned only 38 per cent of the vote, this change in government is indeed democratic, constitutional and fair. It is also in the best interests of Canadians.

This is happening due to the abject failure of Stephen Harper and his government to develop an acceptable plan for our faltering economy. Instead of providing economic leadership, the Harper government took advantage of the economic crisis to advance partisan and ideological interests. The good of Canadians had nothing to do with their plans, when now, more than ever, we need a government focused on what's best for the country.

Most economists have been calling for an economic stimulus, yet the fall economic statement contained $4.3 billion in cuts. This is frighteningly reminiscent of the myopic government austerity that escalated the 1929 recession into a prolonged depression.

Furthermore, the Conservatives are misleading Canadians. Their claim that Canada remains in a surplus position is simply not credible and, even while claiming they prepared for the economic crisis, they say that nobody could have seen it coming. Canada needs economic action, clarity and certainty.

Harper says the coalition is a power grab, yet he believes he is entitled to continue to govern, no matter how poorly, even if he has lost the confidence of the House of Commons. The Conservatives were elected with a minority of seats and an even smaller share of popular support. Now they have lost the moral authority to govern and, fortunately for Canadians, they can be replaced with a legitimate new government without going through another election only eight weeks after the last one.

It is perfectly normal in our system of parliamentary democracy for the Governor General to call upon the Opposition to form a new government, without holding another election, when it can be demonstrated that the new government would be stable and supported by the majority of members of the House of Commons. Harper knows this. That's why he wrote to the Governor General in 2004 to ask her to consider the same kind of arrangement when it was in his favour.

Now it is time to move on and start fresh with this coalition government. Harper must stop equating his party's interests with the interests of Canada. He knows he no longer has the confidence of the House of Commons and can no longer govern. He should be magnanimous and step aside, but I fear that his partisan impulses will, once again, get in the way of doing what is right for Canadians.

Gerry Hawes