Election Watch #6: The Debate That Will Not Be

A short post before the Great Debate, so that I can make a prediction.
Unless somebody steps way off script tonight, the debate will not be a debate at all. The reason is simple. They will be talking about two different things.
Positions going into the debate:
Conservatives: We have balanced the budget.
Liberals: We are in recession
NDP: We will provide a balanced budget.

The problem with this “debate” is that all of these positions are probably true. The first two are easily proven by standard statistical analysis. The problem is that they are talking about two completely different sets of statistics which are not mutually exclusive, so there will be no debate possible. Unless, as I said before, someone actually says something intelligent instead of repeating the same old sound bites over and over.

The Conservatives
– are talking about their expenditures versus their income in the past year.
The Liberals
– have picked up on the dismal performance of the Canadian economy lately.
The NDP
-have nothing to say but promises, which require that they agree with the Conservatives. Heavenly Days!

But Which One Means Anything to Canadians?
I hate to admit defeat, but I cannot understand what the NDP think they are going to get out of their position. It seems that they will antagonize their own supporters, driving the least left-leaning to the Liberals. I can’t see anyone in the Conservative realm believing that the NDP are serious.

The Liberals sound too much like mini-Conservatives to me. There is no fire in their bellies. There is no “I have a dream.” Of course, it’s difficult to have a dream about the economy. And that’s the way the Conservatives want it. Let’s keep everybody’s eyes focused on that economy. They won’t notice that…

…the Conservative position is at best smoke and mirrors, and at worst an acknowledgement that they have caused the recession. Because in their drive to balance the budget, they have cut back on spending. They aren’t being good money managers; they’re pinching pennies. They have underspent on the things Canadians need in order to look good for the election. How many Sea King helicopters have to crash before they finally replace them? (Note to be fair: the Liberals messed this one up earlier.) The Conservatives theoretically did the right thing earlier in their mandate, through deficit spending to stimulate the economy. Their choices of things to spend on might be challenged, but they did spend. Now, when the economy is slowing again, they should be spending again, but because of their election platform as money managers, they have allowed, or even pushed, the economy to falter in order to balance the budget. Naughty, naughty.
The plan should have worked; the effects of this sort of book-juggling shouldn’t have showed up until after the election. Unfortunately for the Conservatives and for Canada, the plunge in oil prices has brought the chickens home to roost earlier that they expected.
And there’s another point. A lot of various birds that he didn’t expect have come to perch on Mr. Harper’s shoulders: the Mike Duffy scandal, the refugee crisis, now the deficit. Gives a rather poor portrayal of someone on top of his game, doesn’t it? “Stay the Course” is starting to sound a bit too much like “Don’t bother to think ahead.”
The cynical might be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Harper is not looking farther ahead than just coming out of this election with enough seats to squeak out a minority government.
But that’s a subject for another post. Let’s see if anybody actually says anything new tonight.

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