The Imperial PMO and the Four

The Imperial PMO and the Four "Truths" -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Statement CPS By: Don Currie, February 14, 2007 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Prime Minister Harper has ordered his party and caucus to ignore the economic crisis that is ruining worker and farm incomes all across the country and to simply concentrate on indoctrinating his extreme right wing voter base with the four "truths" as outlined in his Canadian Club speech on February 6th . The speech outlined Harper's simplistic strategy to win the next federal election, unite the right, divide the left. Unless the left democratic forces begin to re-evaluate and quickly, he just might succeed. Strip away the pious self congratulatory rhetoric and Harper's election pitch to his base boils down to more funds for the US-NATO war in Afghanistan, more corporate tax cuts, absolution of the oil companies from any responsibility for the environmental disaster they have created, more youth in the army and in jails instead of working and getting an education and no serious federal spending on health education and low cost housing. Pleased with himself and his record of gutting women's support programs, aboriginal support programs, undermining the Canadian Wheat Board; bemused as the auto workers, rail workers, Nortel workers, fight to save their jobs, the imperial PM and his high ranking mandarin ministers hob knob with the investor classes reassuring them that the Harper Government is the most dedicated upholder of the profit system and the best option to ensure that the TSX index climbs, oil prices stay high, housing costs consume most of worker income, arms spending has no limits and working class and farm families will be saddled with the costs of cleaning up the environmental mess created by private industry. Jack Layton of the NDP speaking to the Ottawa Economics Association three days later on February 9th outlined his four "truths" to get the economy moving. Layton deplored job losses in the manufacturing sector, in auto, forestry and lumber and exposed the income disparity between CEO's and workers. He pointed to the unfulfilled demand for skilled workers and the decline in R&D linking it to Canada's 16th ranking in global competitiveness and 28th among OECD countries on the environment. Layton made reference to the CCPA survey of workers that revealed that 50% of working Canadians are two pay cheques away from poverty and two-thirds say they are not benefiting from economic growth. Layton decried the fact that the six largest oil companies posted profits of $21 billion and the six largest banks $19 billion last year. Layton said the cause of Canada's economic decline was because, Liberals and Conservatives have drastically reduced the capacity for the federal government to play a positive and helpful role in ensuring the fundamentals are in place so that economic and social systems can adjust, innovate and change at the same time as ensure and cushion for the blows of the unchecked market. If as Layton declares, Canada's economic woes are because Liberals and Conservative governments have "reduced" the capacity for the federal government to play a positive and helpful role, the implication is; Elect the NDP and we will "increase" the capacity for the federal government to play a positive and helpful role and our troubles are over. What would the NDP do about the economy? Layton's four points are: building a bridge to the green economy; leveraging private sector investment; creating fairness in a trading world and strategically investing in social, knowledge and economic infrastructure. On each point Layton proposes tax advantages for good corporate citizens and tax disincentives for bad corporate citizens. He wants federal funds to encourage homeowners to make homes and cars more fuel efficient. Layton advocates tying trade agreements to unfair trade and labour practices of Korea, Japan and China. That's essentially it! (Readers should go to the NDP website to read the full text.) Layton goes on to assure his economist audience, �Governments can�t and shouldn�t run everything. But they do have a responsibility to point the way forward and lay groundwork for the economy of tomorrow. We are certain that Jack Layton believes what he says and is totally unaware of just how limp and anemic such reformist theorizings sounds to an exhausted oil-patch worker, an autoworker caught in the sector downsizing, a farmer that confronts the loss of the Wheat Board or a student that is forced out of a degree program because of crushing tuition fees. Consider what Layton could have said. He could have started by declaring NAFTA a complete failure and exposed the disastrous affects of 85% of Canadian exports going to the crisis ridden war economy of the USA. NAFTA is the cause of the loss of 200,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. He could have called for multi-lateral trade with the world and pointed to the growing trade opportunities for Canada in China, Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil and other emerging economies. Layton could have explained that the same corporate class interests that profiteer out the war in Afghanistan exploit Canadian workers at home and that Canada should get out of the war business and spend on people's needs not arms. He could have called for the nationalization of the energy sector and to adopt a national energy program that would sustain oil patch jobs while providing cheap energy for Canadian industrial, commercial and consumer needs first before sending the country's life blood to the United States to power air conditioners, heat swimming pools and fuel the US military. Layton could have called for a windfall profit tax on banks and the real estate sector, the main beneficiaries of the current overheated housing market and demand legislation to build a million low cost homes. He could have called for a rent and mortgage payment freeze for all working class families suffering job loss. He could have called for rent controls and a crack down on slum landlords. He could have called for the CPP to be taken off stock market where it is used to prop up the TSX Stock index, and for it to be made available as a low interest loan fund to urban communities to upgrade crumbling infrastructure. His call for fuel efficient cars has merit but remains idle talk unless it is accompanied with a demand that the auto sector be compelled to adhere to stringent pollutions standards and to collaborate with government in a nation-wide program to upgrade urban rapid transit. Layton's call for a federal government to undertake nation building projects, an east west electrical power grid are good proposals, but lack political conviction unless it is explained to working people that to make such a dramatic turn in Canadian economic development it will be necessary to confront the violent hostility of the monopolies and the privileged investor classes and their political representatives. To meet that onslaught requires a mass country-wide all-in popular movement of the working people to elect a new kind of government, a government that puts monopoly under control and places the needs of labour and all working people at the top of the national agenda.