Sunday, June 14, 2009

Five Good Reasons to Have a Summer Election

Michael Ignatieff is spending his weekend reviewing the government's economic performance and will announce his decision about calling an election tomorrow, Monday. He is the one who has to decide, but here are some reasons to go for a summer election...

1. Economic mismanagement of the recession
According to the 22 mayors, Harper is flat-out lying when he says that stimulus money is getting to the designated projects. The mayors say the government is dragging its feet so egregiously that they won't be able to spend the money till next summer.

Stimulus money has to be spent now. Spent now, it will give the economy a boost and help us out of the recession. Spent next summer, it could add to inflation. Not acting responsibly is going to cost us big-time down the road. We can't continue with the neo-con ideology-based negligence of Harper/Flaherty.

For God's sake... Under Harper, Ontario has turned into a have-not province! That wasn't an accident. He has never hidden his disdain for Ontario; at the start he seemed to delight in slighting us.

Now more than ever we need responsible economic leadership, and in Canada that means Liberal. (As I have said many times, the Liberals are never able to adequately balance economic responsibility and social progressiveness, but they're the only party even trying.)

2. Lack of help for the unemployed
Half of unemployed Canadians are ineligible for EI. (If I were unemployed I would be ineligible, even though I contribute and have worked the requisite hours.) There are gross inequities across the country in how many hours you need to have worked to get EI, and in how many weeks you can collect it.

This isn't something to start talking about; this is something we need to fix fast - or at least put in temporary measures. EI is anathema to Harper, who calls Canada a "social welfare state in the worst sense of the word" and thinks the unemployed are lazy and criminal. Meanwhile we have a human crisis unfolding all around us... and that hardship is going to further drag down the economy and cost us in the long run.

3. Counter the hate
The Conservatives are spending $750,000 per week to run negative ads attacking the character of Michael Ignatieff. So far their ads are having no effect, but eventually that kind of money and that kind of character-based assault will start to take effect. We let Harper's US-style neo-con politics of hate destroy one Liberal leader; we don't have to pretend that they're playing by gentleman's rules. Let's get mad and take them down.

4. The polls show that Canadians want a change
Canadians - especially the over 50% of Canadians living in Ontario and Quebec - no longer support Stephen Harper. They're fed up and they want a change. A summer election would be a tough fight but it's the right thing to do.

5. An election will provide a good jolt of stimulus
People complain that elections are expensive, but what we need right now is a good jolt of money into the pockets of the unemployed, underemployed, and people living on fixed incomes who are hurting from the stock market crash. An election would be excellent stimulus, providing tens of thousands of part-time jobs.



LMA said...

Whatever Ignatieff decides, I just hope he clearly explains to Canadians the factual reasons for his decision. This would be a good example of the responsible leadership we need.

Yappa said...


Thanks for the comment. Ignatieff has already been very upfront about the process. Back in January he said he'd support the government's economic update only if they did a decent job responding to the recession, and he said he'd give them report cards based on specific criteria. Last week he talked about how he was evaluating their performance. I don't think you could be more transparent. And I'm sure his announcement tomorrow will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Ignatieff's decision is based on one thing and one thing only . . . the polls. He's had many chances to bring down the government but like his predecessor he's wavered time and again.

And oh yeah, Canada leads the G8 countries in performance so the economic bashing approach won't work.

And lastly, not a single Liberal including Ignatieff has offered any other solutions . . . just criticism.

Bring on the election. This is just what Canadians are looking for . . . not.

LMA said...

Anon, job creation through stimulus spending, supplemented by EI reform, are valid solutions to dealing with job loss due to the recession, and that is what Ignatieff is concerned about, not forcing an election.

Yappa, I've read conflicting reports about the criteria used to evaluate the effectiveness of stimulus spending and hope Ignatieff gives Canadians some hard facts tomorrow.

kirbycairo said...

I agree with your five reasons. Unfortunately, Ignatieff will, I think, back down and rubberstamp, once again, the Harper government.

By the way, for all those doubters, EI payments are by far some of the best stimulus payments you can make to the economy.

I guess we will see tommorow if Ignatieff has the b***s or not.

Cari said...

Did anyone ever hear of getting a party back on its feet. which Ignatieff did, after Harper tried to kill the party....Quite a nasty man, that Harper. The NDP are really needing money, so I think they will back dowwn....Do you not think they all look at the polls?

janfromthebruce said...

Cari, my money is on Michael repeating the liberal "puffer fish" routine - big build up and than deflate.

Yappa said...

I certainly agree that anyone thinking about calling an election will look long and hard at the polls. The other problem now is that it's been such a short time since the last election that it could backfire on the person who calls the election. Remember Peterson in Ontario? I think it's the right thing to do but I'll respect his decision if he doesn't. In any event, I hope we get a good analysis of the Conservative stimulus implementation.

Bert said...

You know ?. I disagree with you on most of these point's Yappa. But one thing I need to point out is your line about more than 50% of Quebecers wanting change. I'd be OK with that, if most of them would vote Liberal, or Conservative, or NDP. HOWEVER, I think it absolutely insane that the BQ is allowed to run federally. They should be required to run candidates in a certain number of ridings outside of Quebec.

Mark McLaughlin said...

The most laughable of all those reasons is that an election itself causes stimulus by creating a bunch of part-time, short term jobs.

That is one of the dumbest things I've heard in weeks. I hope it was in jest, but I doubt it.

Most election workers are volunteers. A couple of days sitting at the voting booth for a few thousand people isn't going to do anyone any good.

#1 is being done as quickly as government can.

#2 at least provides for a legit policy discussion, but it's hard to see it as a great vote-getter for any party.

#3 is vertainly accurate, but not on its own a strong reason to go to the polls.

#4 is fickle at best.

All in all, not very compelling. My vote is no election. Iggy will fold. Again.

Kim Feraday said...

If Ignatieff is going to call an election he better start spelling out clearly what he would do differently. It's got to go far beyond changing EI. All government stimulus is going to stop at a critical time -- go and read Paul Krugman in today's NTYs to see why this is important.

Kim Feraday said...

One other comment. Election spending is going to create jobs? Huh? Show me how.

Yappa said...

I have heard that an election costs about $400M. In every riding a DRO is hired for the five weeks of the campaign, and is given a budget to rent space, get equipment and hire other people. Some of those people are hired for a substantial number of hours; some are hired just for election day... but hundreds are hired in each riding, and they tend to be unemployed or people on fixed incomes. When I was younger I did a lot of work in elections in every capacity, and the money came in very handy.

On top of Election Canada's spending, the parties all spend a lot of money on travel, advertising, booking events, etc.

So yes, a lot of an election is done by volunteers, but it is also a good stimulus to the economy.

Yappa said...

Hi Bert,

Interesting point about the Bloc. I don't know that we could ban regional parties or that we'd want to. Take the Reform party as an example... when it started in '87 it was very much a western party running in less than 100 ridings (I believe), and look how it has grown. It would have been wrong to ban it. (On the other hand, that lunatic party with the leader who claimed he could fly ran in every riding one election.)

I'm not sure that the Bloc is such a threat, anyway. They were the official opposition for a while and didn't wreak havoc. But I admit I don't know much about what the threat of the Bloc might be... I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on that.

Bert said...

Hi Yappa. The thing about the Reform Party, it did grow, and look what it has grown into.

BTW, totally unrelated, where did you come up with the name, Yappa Ding Ding ?.

Yappa said...

Hi Bert -

"Yappa ding ding" is a Garifuna expression meaning "something worth less than nothing" and back when I started this I thought that was sort of funny. It may just be a tad too obscure, however...



Bert said...

Thanks for the explanation, Yappa, er, Ruth. Getting back to the possibility of a summer election, The Globe And Mail held a poll, and only 31% of the respondants actually wanted a summer election. 69% did not.

If Michael Ignatief does issue a vote of non confidence, it will not be because the people of Canada want it. It will be becuase HE want's it.

Yappa said...

Hi Bert,

To my mind, your comment reflects the personal character attacks in the Conservative's negative ad blitz: that Iggy is somehow a power-hungry opportunist. The ads are distorting not only Ignatieff but also the nature of politics. The goal of all parties is to win seats and so get influence. There's nothing evil about it.

I'm not convinced that Canadians really are against an election... this could be more Conservative PR. But if they are, then of course the Liberals don't want to get pounded on election day because of dissatisfaction with the early election.

I personally would like an election now because I think Harper is not delivering on the stimulus, based on my reading of the reports by the 22 mayors, and is not helping unemployed Canadians, based on reports about EI.

If Ignatieff can use the election threat to force Harper/Flaherty to get serious about helping Canadians with stimulus and EI reform, then that's a very good thing and I'm happy to wait on an election.

Bert said...

Conservative PR from the Globe & Mail ??!! You've got to be kidding.

Reports from 22 mayors out of how many ?.

Yappa said...

Hi Bert -

Re the Globe, they endorsed Harper in the last election (and the one before that). Conservatives may be bitter that the Globe isn't as gung-ho on the party as they used to be, but it's still firmly pro-Con.

Re the mayors, just google _mayors stimulus_ (and choose Canadian sites only). Here's an example from the June 5 Globe:

Ottawa too slow in delivering stimulus cash, mayors say

Canada's big cities are sounding a national alarm that Ottawa is moving so slowly on spending infrastructure stimulus dollars that projects meant to cushion the blow of the recession will likely not start until next summer – when the downturn is expected to be over.

The federal government has announced “shovel-ready” construction projects and transferred some money to the provinces. But so far, cities have not received the cash they need to break ground, Carl Zehr, mayor of Kitchener, Ont., said on Thursday at the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Whistler, B.C. “Our shovels are ready, and we're simply waiting for the money,” he said.

Three months have come and gone without any cash flowing, a delay long enough that it likely precludes any project starting this summer, other mayors said. “This construction season is virtually lost,” Toronto Mayor David Miller said.

Projects in any part of Canada with a chilly winter could be pushed into next summer, when the economy is predicted to be growing again -- making the package too much, too late. Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central Credit 1, said he expects the economy to start rebounding later this year, with 2 per cent growth in 2010. However, his forecast for this year includes the effect of some infrastructure spending, which might set back the start of the recovery.

At a minimum, any delay in the infrastructure program will leave the Canadian economy vulnerable to unexpected shocks.

Economists say the boost from infrastructure spending will still come in handy next year, because the pace of growth will be tepid. But a bigger worry may be over-stimulation if the program spills into 2011, as the mayors are urging. Derek Burleton, senior economist with TD Bank Financial Group, said public works projects are unlikely to be needed in two years, and could help to rekindle inflation.

In the January budget, the federal government said it would spend $4-billion on infrastructure programs over two years (along with matching amounts from provincial and municipal governments) as part of its broader effort to soften the impact of the global recession.

Ottawa has not set a timeline for rolling out infrastructure spending. But at the time of the budget, the government warned that for stimulus measures to be “most effective” they would have to begin within 120 days – a deadline that expired last week. The government's forecast said the package's main impact will be in 2009. It estimates a 1.6-percentage-point contribution to economic growth in 2009 and a 0.2-percentage-point contribution in 2010.