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Political Sobriety

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The last ten days in Canadian politics have been very interesting, and coupled with continuing trends in the economy, have been concerning as well.

I’m thrilled to hear that Michael Ignatieff is now leader of the federal Liberal party. I think Ignatieff (I won’t call him Iggy – that’s reserved for Calgary’s favorite hockey player) has brought renewed credibility to the Liberals and poses a worthy and hopefully insurmountable challenge to Stephen Harper (begrudgingly, still our Prime Minister). At the very least, he, along with what I believe will become an unsuccessful and soon extinct coalition, have spiced up Canadian politics. More Canadians are talking about politics, and love Ignatieff or hate him, Stephen Harper will be forced to put some effort into his party’s agenda to effectively sway voters due to the bolstered and more effective opposition. These are exciting times. We have a celebrated thinker leading the opposition, and a ruthless and (I will credit him) crafty Prime Minister ready to duke it out, with hardened support behind each of them. I predict we will finally have some worthy debate now that we appear to have worthy combatants, and I foresee brighter days and greater results from government and higher voter turnouts in future elections.

I also predict that with Michael Ignatieff’s ascension the final nail has been driven into the coffin of Stephen Harper’s aspirational majority government. Furthermore, it is my belief that Harper will be forever remembered as a leader who struggled mightily to gain a majority, legislated as though he already had one, much to his demise, and spent much of his retirement second guessing his actions while in power. The book that will follow his departure will undoubtedly say as much. Poor Stevey.

All this said, Michael, where have you been? The Liberal Party ought to have gotten on with your nomination two years ago when you were poised to become leader the first time. I was a staunch supporter of Ignatieff’s leading up to the 2006 Liberal leadership convention and I saw something that has obviously taken two years for the rest of the party faithful to realize – that this guy is special and worth backing. The last two years with this forever ambiguous Dion fellow has been a waste of time: disengaging voters, mobilizing the right, disenfranchising the left, giving Harper a free ride (which he squandered), bewildering the international community and costing Canadian tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars.

While our parliament is on extended Christmas vacation, very real issues continue to fester. I’m very concerned about the decisions being made by government, in particular with regards to bailing out the auto sector. Now, I am sorry if my stance is lacking in sympathy, but I’m not employed by the auto industry, nor is anyone I know, so my emotional ties are rather distant and I am at best apathetic.

It simply doesn’t make sense to me that we should, for any reason, save floundering businesses no matter their size. It is the nature of capitalism that businesses operate self-reliantly, understanding the risks involved and conducting themselves accordingly. It is a slippery slope that we invite businesses to beg for handouts when their business plans have failed and they’ve run out of their own money to lose. As I mentioned to my friend Davin last weekend, what’s next? Will we bail out Petro Canada or Exxon when they come calling once our culture has shifted to renewable fuels and their blindness puts another 100,000 employees at risk of being laid off? Then only a few days ago, this article is published in the Globe and Mail, mentioning how mining and forestry are being considered for tax payers’ dollars, which poignantly emphasizes my argument. Archaic industries and poor business practices getting in line because times are tough. How do we as a responsible and forward thinking society progress if we are constantly propping up shortsightedness and poor planning?

In the late 90’s Canada’s Nortel Networks traded at $124 a share on the NYSE, and, considered a catastrophic example of the internet bubble burst, now trades below a dollar a share and was warned this week that they would be delisted if they didn’t pick themselves up. They’ve laid off 60,000 workers in the last 8 years. Where was their bailout?

We return from the coast tomorrow evening. It’s straight to dinner with my team to celebrate the holidays. To you and yours, best of the season, be safe and cheers.

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About the author cdub

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