OTTAWA – Leaders Ledger – This week in Ottawa saw the marathon voting on the massive Conservative budget bill begin, the Nova Scotia NDP of Darrell Dexter government receive some positive reviews from two credit rating agencies, and a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which concludes that the Canadian economy is in fact suffering from Dutch Disease.
Earlier in the week, New Democrats decided to table hundreds of amendments to the 425-page Conservative “budget” bill to prove a point. The Conservatives planned to amend more than 70 pieces of legislation on everything from Employment Insurance, to the environment, and the fisheries, while reducing the budget of the Auditor General, and eliminating the position of the Inspector General of CSIS which has kept tabs on our spy agency since 1984. In short, this one “budget” bill is in reality about 70 pieces of legislation packed into one and a deliberate attempt to limit parliamentary debate and oversight.
Since this so-called “budget” was nothing more than an attempt to limit debate, New Democrats decided to table normal amendments to the various clauses that we disagree with as we would have if the bill had been split into the appropriate number of parts and debated properly. The result was the tabling of 159 amendments by the opposition and more than 24 hours of continuous voting. It really is a shame that it had to come to this, but the absurdity of putting forth a bill of this size and magnitude had to be put on display and opposed with full force. Despite our best efforts, the bill will likely pass into law sometime next week.
There was some welcome for the people of Nova Scotia and the New Democrat government of Darrell Dexter this week. Two separate credit rating agencies said they held a positive outlook on the financial operations of the Dexter government and on the Nova Scotia economy. The Dominion Bond Rating Service upgraded the province’s outlook from stable to positive while maintaining its ‘A’ rating, and Standard and Poor’s reaffirmed its ‘A+’ rating and outlook for the province. Dominion said their upgrade was the result of the Dexter restraining spending growth and meeting its fiscal targets. Dexter and the NDP took over from the Conservative government of Rodney MacDonald in 2009 and inherited a massive budget deficit, but have since got the finances of the province under control and could balance the budget as early as next year. The Dexter government is again showing that fiscally and socially responsible government are not only possible, but are more often than not found together in prosperous economies.
Finally this week another massive study has found that Canada’s economy is in fact suffering from the Dutch Disease. This time it was the world renowned OECD that published a massive report on the Canadian economy as they do for each member state each year. One of the authors of the 128-page report by the internationally renowned economic think-tank report said on the issue of Dutch Disease in Canada; “I don’t think you can really deny it…You can’t explain the entire pattern of the history of manufacturing just by exchange rates, that goes too far, but anyone who argues it has no effect is clearly not looking at the data.” Dutch Disease is a series of related economic events that begins with the fast rise of a natural resource sector, continues with a rise in the value of a currency, and ends with the significant destabilization or decline of the manufacturing sector in a particular economy. In the case of Canada, New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair, several Canadian think tanks, economists at Industry Canada, and now the OECD have concluded that the boom in Alberta’s oilsands has lead to the Canadian dollar being overvalued by as much 25 percent, which in turn has directly lead to the loss of more 500,000 manufacturing jobs across the country.
Conservatives hiding their radical agenda in a 425-page “budget” bill, praise being bestowed for the fiscal responsibility of yet another New Democrat government, and more support for Tom Mulcair’s claim that about Dutch Disease is afflicting the Canadian economy and hurting manufacturers across the country; just another week in Ottawa.
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River