Conservative Memory Lane Is A Nightmare On Elm Street

The best part of being a conservative it seems is not remembering the recent past.

Why is that conservative rhetoric never seems to pass the historical smell test, and the mythology of strong fiscal conservative is exactly that, mythology.

“Is Kelowna Courier still interested in moderating a debate on defence & veterans issues between @FuhrMP and me? After agreeing last time Stephen pulled out even though $2K was pledged to a veterans cause of his choice.” Erin O’Toole

Erin O’Toole wanting to have debate highlighting his record, and the record of the Harper Government on veterans issues is like having a parade dedicated to failure. Let’s take a look at this record.

in 2013, the Stephen Harper government shut down nine Veterans Affairs offices to save $3.78 million and the same year increased its advertising budget by more than $4 million to buy playoff hockey ads, and spent $69 million dollars advertising itself.

Despite saying that these cuts would streamline services, making them more efficient and beneficial to veterans, the shutdowns laid off 89 employees, leaving eight workers to cover 17,000 veterans. In Sydney, Nova Scotia, one person was to do the work of 13 employees who had handled 4,200 clients. Not once can I see Erin O’Toole voicing his opposition to this move, or calling to restore those services. The Harper government prioritized cutting taxes to providing even basic mental health services to our veterans.

In 2014, Auditor general Michael Ferguson found the Conservative government was again failing returning injured veterans by imposing up to an eight month waiting time for mental health help. Even John Ivison, of the National Post called the report “damning”. The answer of the Harper Government was to inject $200 million into the system over six years for mental health services, but later admitting the money was not over six years but over half a century!

Where was Erin O’Toole when his government launched the largest cuts to staff at Veterans Affairs in history, nearly 900 jobs (or about one-quarter of the staff had been cut), with the biggest cuts coming in the disability awards branch. Not a single Conservative MP stood up for veterans when all that cash was on the chopping block.

There are so many stories, like returning $1.13 of under-spent Veterans Affairs money to general revenue, like the smearing and privacy violations committed against veterans who spoke out publicly against the Harper government, or the wounded soldiers that were required to sign a form giving their agreement not to criticize senior officers on social media. We could go on and on.

Why Erin O’Toole would want to defend this record is beyond me. He was one of the grand marshals in the Stephen Harper parade of failure.

“It’s 2018, not 1984! Why are the Trudeau Liberals using Orwellian techniques to harvest your private banking information?” Dan Albas, Conservative MP.

The Harper government was one of the worst governments in Canadian history when it came to breaching the privacy of Canadian citizens. In fact, in 2015 the Privacy commissioner appointed by Stephen Harper, Daniel Therrien said “On the whole, all of the bills discussed here are tied together by a common thread. Each will increase the power of the government and its agents to collect, use and share our personal information without our knowledge or consent, and without a commensurate increase in oversight or independent review to help to assure these powers are not misused or abused.”

While the Conservative Party of Canada is having its little outrage cosplay festival regarding Statistics Canada, perhaps it can explain the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (SCISA) — which allowed every federal institution to share personal information collected from Canadians 17 specifically federal departments and agencies.

The Privacy Commissioner himself stated that legislation put forward by the Harper government that allowed for what he called “dangerous amounts of government surveillance” — and identifying the flaws in those laws will be an ongoing focus of his office in the “months and years to come.”

How quickly they forget.

“Justin Trudeau is failing the Canadian Economy.” Andrew Scheer, Conservative Leader.

Take a walk with me from 1993-2015. Lets take a brief look at our recent economic past. We were in a seriously bad economic position left to Canadians by the Mulroney government.

The federal debt under the Liberals was reduced by $90 billion from 1993-2006; the debt burden fell from 66.6 per cent in 1994-95 to 31.4 per cent in 2006-07. To accomplish this, the Liberals implemented a temporary capital tax on large deposit taking institutions, a higher tax on large corporations, a temporary corporate surtax; and higher excise taxes on gasoline and tobacco products. There were ZERO personal tax increases.

Yes, initially the Liberals did cut transfer payments to the provinces. When the budget was balanced, The Liberals introduced a 10-year plan which put the major transfers to the provinces on a sustainable and growing rate. In 2000, with the deficit eliminated and with no interest rate risk, the Liberal government implemented the largest personal and corporate income tax reduction in Canadian history. This fueled our economy, even with the tech bubble bursting in 2001. We managed to avoid the recession that hit most countries post 9/11.

In 2006, Harper Government inherited a surplus of $13.8 billion — which they turned into a deficit of $5.8 billion within two years. They remained in deficit each year, creating a structural deficit. In 2009-10, the deficit reached its peak of 3.5 per cent of GDP. Under Stephen Harper, the net federal debt increased by over $150 billion, wiping out the total reduction in federal debt achieved under Chretien and Martin. Even with a global economic downturn this was an inexplicable and unnecessary increase.

Under the Harper Government, after 2006, economic growth declined in every year after 2010 and averaged only 1.7 per cent per year. In the previous nine years under Chretien/Martin, economic growth averaged 3.4 per cent per year. As of January 2015: the unemployment rate was higher than at the end of 2008. Labour force participation rate was lower than in 2008. The youth unemployment rate was higher than at the end of 2008. Full-time and manufacturing jobs fell substantially 2008-2015. From 2008-2015 we created jobs at far lower rate than the other G7 countries. Post 2015, the share of total employment made up of full-time jobs was less than in 2008 — and the quality of jobs had sunk to its lowest level in a quarter of a century.

All of this despite the largest accumulation of net national debt over a 7 year period in Canadian history. What is left to show for it. Name one legacy Stephen Harper economic achievement.

Credit is mistakenly given to Stephen Harper for his steady hand during the global economic downturn of 2008-09, but the truth is the decisions made under the Jean Chretien government were the ones that saved the Canadian economy. All the Harper government did was take credit for the stability that the economic decisions made by the Chretien/Martin governments gave us – including stopping Canadian banks from merging. When his hand was forced by the opposition he emulated the stimulus plan Bob Rae used in Ontario in the 90’s. Not one original idea.

We aren’t stupid, the only legacy of failure that I can see here is yours, Andrew Scheer.

Oh, and about the economy under the Trudeau Liberals. The Government of Canada recently released its annual financial report. Lets take a look at a few key points.

Federal interest costs as a share of GDP are at its lowest level today since before the Great Depression.

The Canadian economy was remarkably strong in 2017, growing at a pace well above that of all other Group of Seven (G7) countries, and at its strongest pace since 2011. Canada added 427,300 jobs in 2017, leading the unemployment rate to fall to 5.8% in December 2017—matching its lowest recorded level in over 40 years. According to IMF, Canada’s total government net debt-to-GDP ratio stands at 27.8% and is the lowest of any of the G7 countries. Canada’s nominal GDP grew 5.4% in 2017, up from 2.0% in 2016.

You call this failure?

Canada’s Federal Debt Percentage to GDP has fallen each year under the Liberal Government as compared to the Conservative Governments under Stephen Harper.

A large portion of deficit carried by the Trudeau Government in 2015/2016 was caused by incorrect projections in the previous Conservative budget. The 2014/2015 oil slowdown created a $70B shortfall from Budget 2015 projections to 2016 GDP. That created $12B shift in the budget as per the report.

Creating a failure based narrative based on the economic record of the Trudeau government is not in any way supported by facts with Canada’s current economic reality.

These are only two examples of Conservative sloganeering not matching their past record nor Canada’s current realities. Remember that the past performance and historical record of a political party or politician is the best indicator of what their future policies and actions will be. You cannot claim to be an economic steward when your past record shows you to have been a failure, and you cannot claim to be a defender of privacy when your past record shows you to be the opposite.

I have a saying when listening to proclamations and promises made by today’s Conservative Party of Canada: Laugh once, think twice.

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