The federal government wants its new War of 1812 monument to be a traditional 19th century war memorial rather than a piece of contemporary public art with a message of peace, says a Toronto sculptor who entered the design competition.
Eldon Garnet was of the six finalists chosen last December by the competition jury. But his design and those of three other artists were eliminated last week when the jury abruptly cut the number of finalists to two.
The government’s decision to eliminate tariffs that were protecting a largely nonexistent industry seems to have more to do with online shopping and the rise of the Canadian dollar to parity with its American counterpart.
For example, many of the skates at Pro Hockey Life priced from $500 to $700, a surprisingly large category, are available from American online retailers at prices that are at least $100 lower because of low tariffs in the United States.
So the federal government established high tariffs to protect domestic hockey equipment manufacturers. The tariff failed miserably as producers shifted to low labour cost countries more than a decade ago. It only got around to eliminating this pointless tariff this year. Something that was marketed as protecting Canadian jobs was really just gouging Canadian consumers, while providing little revenue to the federal government.
If you were to make a careful review of the Canadian tariff schedule, I suspect you'd find hundreds of similar bone-headed trade barriers. They were born of the long ago discredited idea of economic protectionism: You make a country rich and prosperous by gouging many to benefit a few. It made very little sense in the 1870s, when John A Macdonald cooked up the National Policy as a way of getting back into power, it makes even less sense now. Yet it still persists.
Economic logic cannot explain it. What can explain this cut off your nose inspite of your face mentality is politics. Tariffs are a cheap and easy way to buy off special interest groups. Rather than having to hand out subsidies, which takes valuable tax dollars away from other vote buying efforts, a tariff allows you earner political support while actually increasing federal revenue. Sure ordinary consumers are screwed over by this policy, and ordinary consumers are also voters, but luckily voters are remarkably stupid.
A wide range of tariffs on consumer goods keeps prices higher in Canada than the States. Yes, I know we signed a "free trade" deal with the Americans a quarter century ago, but like most things in modern politics free in a relative thing. We have freer trade with the Yankees, though hardly anything Adam Smith or David Ricardo would have supported. There is still plenty of protectionism in Canadian trade policy. There is also plenty of protectionism in domestic policy ranging from supply management in agriculture to a vast array of specious health and safety requirements. Health and safety are certainly important, but such regulations provide ample room for manipulation.
If boosting entitlement funding is Canadian politicians favourite pastime, their second favourite is aiding and abetting rent seeking. There is the garden variety stuff, like paying for new carpeting at curling rinks, then there is the more pernicious variety seen in consumer tariffs. For several decades now economists and economic historians have spectulated that the persistant gap in living standards between us and the Americans has been largely driven by our tariff policies. In trying to promote our industrial base, which would have developed anyway, we instead impoverished ourselves.
That we continue to repeat the same old failed policies, expecting a different result, seems to be the working definition of both insanity and our political process.
Also this week, Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui broke intriguing news: Gina Csanyi-Robah of Toronto’s Roma Community Centre, who had filed a criminal hate-speech complaint against Mr. Levant, claims that police and Crown attorneys were willing to proceed with charges — but that the provincial Attorney-General’s office nixed it. She claims deputy Attorney-General Patrick Monahan said the case would be “challenging,” and that Mr. Levant would turn the proceedings into “a bit of a circus.”
It should be noted that Ezra did go too far with his anti-Roma rant and an apology was in order. Not because the government ordered it, but because it was the right thing to do. Good manners are not the prerogative of the state. The moral of the story, however, is that the Establishment is scared of Ezra Levant. That's a very, very good sign.
His comments follow criticism from the opposition-- and even a fellow member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet -- that Flaherty overstepped his bounds after his office asked Manulife Financial to reverse its decision to lower its five-year mortgage rate from 3.09 per cent down to 2.98 per cent. The bank quickly complied.
In a statement, Manulife said it had restored the higher rate "after consulting with the Department of Finance."
Ah, yes. That all purpose word "consulting." Sort of in the same way that people make other people offers they can't refuse. This is behaviour one expects from street hoodlums and Leftist politicians. Apparently the Harperized Conservative Party has no problem telling large financial institutions that they are offering their clients too good a deal. For decades solemn figures on the Left have told us that, without the firm hand of government, large corporations would gouge ordinary Canadians. Here is an instance of the firm hand of government ensuring that large financial institutions continue to charge their customers higher prices.
Ever since Stephen Harper told libertarians to grow up, I've had a sneaking suspicion that the Tories aren't so much pragmatists who limp to the Right, as statist with pro-market pretensions. I don't think that Stephen Harper, MA in Economics, actually gets how a free market works. The lessons that he and Big Jim Flaherty have taken from the American housing meltdown are exactly the wrong ones. In the Harper narrative it was reckless private banks and mortgage companies, combined with gullible or dishonest consumers, that created a housing bubble that burst and took down the world economy.
Which gets it exactly wrong. The housing market bubble was a product of easy money from the Federal Reserve and lax borrowing standards imposed by Congress on private firms. Any hesitancy that private lenders might have had were eased by a promise, through Freddie and Fannie, that the federal government would be ready and able to bail them out. This is a product of government meddling in the housing market. Did we mention that Canada has its very own government backed ticking time bomb? It's called The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Perhaps Jimmy should give them a call.
If Jim Flaherty thinks that private lenders are being too generous, then he can formally change the rules. The Minister of Finance has the power to adjust lending requirements, something that Big Jim has done in the past. Apparently seven years in power has made the fellow a bit lazy. Rather than issuing the appropriate directives or orders-in-council, Jimmy just decided to have one of his flunkies make a call. So much easier than this whole rule of law stuff.
In fairness to Jimmy this sort of behaviour isn't without precedent. When John A Macdonald was serving as PM he was also president of two insurance companies, including the one that Flaherty was bullying this week. The incestuous relationship between finance and meddlesome government pre-dates Confederation. Politicians were telling banks how to run their affairs when Canada was little more than a string of fur trading posts and a few farms. This is more than just political empire building, it's an approach built on a certain understanding of finance and banking.
To early Canadian political leaders the American banking system was a financial wild west. Small banks would appear out of nowhere, fleece their depositors and vanish into the hills. This was a crude and simplistic understanding of early American finance, yet it fit into a wider Canadian bias that Americans are loud mouth cowboys with more attitude than sense. We were Britannia's sensible eldest daughter and the Yanks were Sam Slick. To ensure that Canada did not degenerate to American standards of recklessness the firm, though discrete, hand of the state was required.
This terribly Victorian Tory view of the world persists in our financial regulations. Bankers are wild men who will lend with reckless abandon, unless the wise Ottawa Mandarins tug on the leash. The difference between Big Jim and his predecessors, including the now beatified Paul Martin, is that they threatened discretely. In a scene out of comic opera the minister was trying on a new pair of shoes, with a government logo no less, while off-handedly commenting that he'd been bullying Bay Street suits.
For power to be effective it must be respected. It's hard to respect Jim Flaherty today.
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire:
In an overtly political move with an eye fixed firmly on the 2015 general election, Mr Osborne announced that the Government would offer five-year interest-free loans worth up to 20 per cent of the value of new-build homes costing less than £600,000. From January, another scheme will see taxpayers underwrite mortgages to those with small deposits, including more than a million people trapped with so-called “zombie” loans, where the fall in the value of their homes has left them unable to move.
The federal Liberal leadership race was supposed to help the third-place party connect with a new, younger generation of voters and expand its shrunken base.
But an analysis of those who've registered to vote thus far suggests it's done neither.
Almost 60 per cent are 50 years of age or older.
Almost half reside in Ontario.
I was wrong. So were a lot of other people. The working assumption these last few months was that Justin's teenybooper fans would secure his victory. Low attention and low information youngsters would back the Dauphin because he was cute and charming. Keeping in mind that it's easy to be charming when you're so adorable!!!!!
Then comes this bombshell. 60% of those who bothered to register are old enough to have voted for Pierre Trudeau. So much for connecting with the voters of tomorrow. It was the boomers who kept the Dauphin's father in power all those years, now they've returned to vote for the son. There is a touching loyalty on display, something out of a feudal romance. The peasant folk coming to the manor to show homage toward their young lord.
Almost brings a tear to the eye.
Having mistaken Justin's appeal as eye candy we now, after some time, discover that it's more akin to nostalgia. Since the original Trudeau lead singer has taken the Stairway to Heaven, we have to settle for the somewhat shrill cover band. But heck. Just close your eyes and it's still 1968! I still have all my hair! Socialism still makes logical sense!
This is why the Liberal Party makes no sense: Aside from those who grew up with the brand, who really cares anymore? They vote Liberal for the same reason they buy Frosted Flakes. It's what they bought as a kid and they feel comfortable doing it. The Liberal Party is a product that is bought for nostalgia purposes, except nostalgia products are sold in niche markets. Canadian politics, at least outside Quebec, does not allow for niches. Our political system tends toward three party oligopolies: Right, Centre and Left.
The Liberal Party could replace the NDP as Parliament's perennial third place finishers. But the NDP survived all these years because it was seen as a party of principles, reliably attracting union members and granola munching university graduates. These groups reproduce across the generations. You vote NDP because you believe in NDP values. No one votes Liberal because of Liberal values. The Liberals have no values.
A moment of recollection: Jean Chretien the deficit slayer was, less than twenty years earlier, one of the finance ministers who ran up the deficit he was slaying. PM Chretien was basically cleaning up the mess Minister Chretien helped create. This is why I'm always amused by people who argue that Papa Jean was a natural fiscal conservative with a social conscience. Nope. That was John Turner and he left politics in 1975 in no small part because he saw the mess PET was leaving the country.
That's the Liberal Party. They pretend to be like John Turner, but in practice lurch from Trudeaupian socialism to Martinite fiscal prudence as the political winds dictate. The Grits are a classic brokerage party. Thing is that they've got nothing to broker anymore. The Tories and Dippers now occupy the political real estate they did for decades. To survive the Liberals would either have to go further to the Left than the NDP, or further to the Right than the Tories.
There is certainly enough political space to the Right or Left of the two largest parties. Thing is that Justin isn't nimble or clever enough to find it. Such a shift would also mean jettisoning the party's mushy Blue Liberals and many of its long time careerists. What's left of a business when you've fired all the staff and alienated much of your customer base?
No matter how nostalgic the Grit Boomers get in electing Boy Justin, nostalgia isn't enough to deal with modern Canada. The Liberal Party makes no sense and placing a novice at the helm even less.
Nearly one year ago, Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter issued one of his most scathing indictments of the Liberal government’s incompetence and mismanagement.
McCarter’s special investigation into the province’s air ambulance service, Ornge, provided example after example of how the Liberals handed over more than $700 million of taxpayers’ money since 2006, with little or no oversight.