The Liberals Are The Best Managers Of Our Economy

7 05 2012

The Liberal Party is the only party that knows that a strong economy requires both a strong business sector and a strong workforce. Only the Liberal Party knows how, and has the experience, to put forward policy that ensures the health of both sectors.

The kind of policy that drives our economic health recognizes that fiscal and monetary approaches must ensure that people are educated with the necessary skills, that people are healthy, that there are necessary safety nets available should they lose their jobs, and that their children are provided the same opportunities afforded to their parents. At the same time, fiscal and monetary policy must be managed and balanced to support business confidence and growth.

The Liberal Party ensures that policies on the environment, trade, infrastructure growth, and health and safety, are implemented in a manner that is also supportive of economic growth. The Liberal Party makes sure that focus on short term profits do not impede the long-term basis for economic health, while also ensuring that conditions for the business sector promote sustained growth through sound fiscal management.

The Liberal Party is the only party that can manage economic policy to ensure that a healthy business sector is developed and encouraged by ensuring a fair and optimal balance of taxation and government spending to provide a healthy workforce that enjoys clean air and water, and by ensuring the infrastructure necessary for sustained economic growth is in place. Appropriate arrays of regulatory approaches are tailored to provide optimal conditions for sustained business growth, and for a healthy, strong, and well compensated workforce.

Over time, in this country, and in Western civilization generally, history has shown that only with this type of balanced policy approach, centering equally on both sectors of the economy, have our economies performed optimally over a sustained period, generating wealth that is shared justly. Experiments with neo-conservative or socialist policies have consistently proved detrimental to our economic health each and every time they are implemented.

Policies that promote both a strong business sector and a strong labor force working together are the essential wealth creation engines. Economic history has proven this time and time again. By these means, only the Liberal Party has the value system, knowledge base, and skill to manage our economies to the optimal benefit of every Canadian.


Can We Engage the Private Sector in Joining Governments in Funding Programs for Energy and Infrastructure Programs?

30 10 2011

The Canadian approach to funding energy and infrastructure projects should include, in future, investment funds jointly funded and managed in cooperation with the private sector.

To date, in part because many provinces in Canada generally power their electricity grids by means of government owned power utilities, the burden for raising equity for investment in the electrical power generating sector has fallen in large measure on the tax revenues accrued by provincial governments, and by the rate-payers. Strategies for electrical energy sector investment have also been developed in large measure by provincial government energy ministries which then must vie with competing budgets in other ministries, and market forces. Capital outlays for needed new electrical power developments can easily result in severe effects on government fiscal policy where those outlays are paid for by public debt instruments and tax revenues.

Some provincial governments have made the electrical energy sector more open to development by private investors, most notably in Ontario. However, huge capital investment is still needed in the province to meet forecast demand loads, which will place great pressure on the governments’ ability to manage and meet all the demands on its fiscal policy. Similar considerations apply to most other provinces in their energy sector strategies.

Ontario has also led the way in providing an overall government agency to promote and advise on investment strategies for electrical power generation, including investment in clean energy producers. This agency, the Ontario Power Authority, advises and directs the government and business leaders in matters of developing and allocating investment programs.

While this policy approach has resulted in meaningful improvements to the development of diverse and clean electrical energy supplies, huge capital outlays are still required for sustaining and building base-load power generation. It may be possible to address these funding issues by engaging private investors in a government sponsored investment fund to build capital reserves for new electrical developments, including base-load power generators.

Such a fund, structured along the lines of a mutual fund, would provide a source of capital for power generator providers where the private and public investors would be compensated by dividends arising from the revenues accruing from the new electrical power generation. It would have the advantage of funding provincial and private investments in the sector by providing a source of equity otherwise not available. It would also address impacts on the debt load on the provinces that otherwise would accrue from current approaches to funding new power plants.

Certain tax credit mechanisms may be included for private investors to apply against other capital gains and taxable revenue streams. Equity raised by the funds would be done on a “just in time basis,” and electrical power developers would be required to make interest payments on capital obtained from the fund, in advance of dividends arising from revenues that may later be realized by power generation from new power plants. In this manner, investors would be compensated in a reasonable and timely manner for capital investments in power plant construction that would take many years to complete. Companies, including government owned companies, that borrow capital from the funds would be held to strict financial guidelines to ensure that the companies are on a sound investment grade structure. Any investment capital provided by the funds would be done as a secured debt meeting applicable provincial legislation, or through other ad hoc means of reciprocal equity financing by providing direct and proportional ownership of the new plants by fund investors.

In a time of fiscal stress now impacting provincial and federal governments, new financial strategies will be necessary to address demands and impact on government’s fiscal policy. This would be true, as well, for infrastructure projects generally.

Joint government and private sector investment strategies for infrastructure investment may be just what the doctor ordered in these times of fiscal stress.

Seriously Canada, This Is Who We Are?

16 04 2011

A quiet panic clawing my throat, barely held at bay by the frequent and deliberate redirection of my attention, grew to a fevered pitch this morning with the rash of mainstream media headlines proclaiming Harper storming to a majority. I guzzled some Bromo Seltzer, tuned into Judge Judy for half an hour and my world began to morph back into the craggy, slightly psychotic but comfortably familiar mien I have come to know. There are some stragglers still stuck in my craw though. I keep coming back to one pulsating question: Seriously Canada, this is who we are?

This man, Stephen Harper, is who we select time and time again to represent our values, aspirations and ideals? Are we no more than a mean-spirited, fear-guzzling, self-centered, xenophobic, reactionary, nation of apathetic tv watchers stuffed to the gills with sound bites and outright lies, whose favourite past time is the stalking and capture of the almighty dollar? Have we become such middle class gourmands that we can afford to carry the cellulite Harper world view around our midriffs in all its spare tire glory? Be damned the clogging of our arteries!

Yes, the economy is important but for very different reasons than the corporatists, who now hold sway, would have us believe. Their concern for the middle and lower class is fickle, superficial and ephemeral; were their need for labourers to disappear tomorrow, all but the very elite would find themselves soon kicked to the curb. A strong economy is important because it allows us to surpass the hard-scrabble battle of survival and to give of ourselves, to our families, our neighbours and strangers. This is why we join in the struggle to better the economy.

The Harper mantra for this election is “economy”.  I can almost see him reclined in the lotus position, his tantra opens in his mind’s eye and he starts his chant, “E…connn… aummm…y…E…connn…aummm…y“. Well, you get the idea. Oh, a quick aside to any real right wing readers, just because I mentioned the lotus flower does not a Maoist of me make. In any case, it’s almost as if Harper’s relentless chanting of this basic mantra has swept the nation into a transcendental, robotic state of acquiescence. We all nod in rhythmic, automaton agreement, “Yes master, the economy is supreme”. But we should stop and consider why the economy is important to us on an individual and national level. It is not an end in and of itself, rather, it is a means to an end. A strong economy lets us fulfill our better instincts; to feed and educate our children, to ensure that every citizen has equal access to healthcare and education, to offer refuge to, both, citizens and foreigners in distress, to improve the world we leave to future generations,  to promote universal human rights, to facilitate and maintain peace amongst individuals and nations and to ensure that justice is applied in an even handed, non-discriminatory fashion. These are only a few of the jewels in the crown of a thriving economy but each one has far greater value and longevity than any accumulation of wealth could ever aspire to.

Despite this, the Harper Tories, given their druthers, would pry out the gems, melt down the gold and divide it all amongst corporations and the wealthiest few, while attempting to convince the rest of us, who have been left to wrestle over the slag, that this is all doable due to some previously untapped alchemical process. Jets, prisons, corporate tax cuts – no worries! We can haz it all! Just eat your slag and shut up. Huzzah!

Harper’s Tories want us to believe that we are on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, hunted by the Balrog and that they alone can fend off the monster. “Fly, you fools”, Harper shouts as he wrestles the great, unearthly economic undoing into the abyss.  I fervently believe that we are better than that. We still have it in us to be the nation we were building towards when we abolished the death penalty, introduced universal health care, led the way in peacekeeping and threw our doors open to refugees and immigrants. We have it in us to be that nation because that is the country we inherited from our forefathers whose footprints, albeit somewhat faint these days, are, nonetheless, indelible .  It is the spirit of Canada and though it may be dormant now, the time for hibernation always comes to an end.  When that slumbering beast awakes, rubs the sleep from its eyes and gathers its wits, it will find it has an insatiable hunger for the progressive, fair and kind Canada that once filled its belly. If only the progressive centre-left would take its hand off the self-destruct button, that beast might have a chance of finding much needed sustenance.

Looking at you Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May.

O Damcanada Obamacare

13 08 2009

I just saw someone in an anti-Obama healthcare protest carrying a placard that read “If socialist medicine is best why didn’t Ted Kennedy go to Canada?” Clearly the answer – too obvious for someone whose views are skewed by political hysteria – lies in the fact that Ted Kennedy is not one of the millions of Americans who don’t have equal access to healthcare due to lack of financial means. The hordes of people ranting against the bill seem to be saying that they don’t want the less well-off to have the same opportunity to receive the medical care that they have. (Do you suppose that any of the protesters don’t have medical coverage?) And this, a shining example of democracy,  equal opportunity! Ludicrous!

More than that, since I don’t profess to know what is best for another country, let alone my own, I am perturbed by the temptation of so many of the anti Obamacare crusaders to indulge in attacking the Canadian healthcare system. There are a number of reasons this disturbs me deeply. Primarily, their attacks are based on dredging up a few negative articles and opinion pieces which may highlight some of the shortcomings of universal care. (I don’t pretend our system is perfect – what human political-economic system is?) These types of articles, unfortunately, far outnumber the positive ones because the smooth functioning of a decades old system isn’t newsworthy. It doesn’t garner attention simply because we, as Canadians who have had the privilege of having been served by this system, know that it is healthy, beneficial and above-all universal.  There is not one citizen in Canada ever denied quality medical treatment based on ability to pay. If a patient needs a heart transplant, a family doctor, an emergency room visit, they get in line behind everyone else regardless of income.  And these lines are not as long as our American critics would have the rest of the world believe.

My father recently needed knee replacement surgery and his operation was scheduled within a month of the assessment by the specialist. One month!  Two weeks ago my daughter was bitten by a raccoon and needed rabies shots – she began the course of treatment the same day. My sister died two years ago before which she was in palliative care (compassionate, caring palliative care) for 9 months. My son has ADHD and he has had top quality care since he was 5 years old. I had cancer 15 years ago and was treated immediately and I’m still here to tell the tale.  I could never imagine complaining about our healthcare anymore than I could look a gift horse in the mouth.

Our detractors in the U.S. don’t dare peek behind the curtain for fear of seeing the reality, namely, that we have an outstanding, compassionate system that treats everyone equally and removes the fear of not being able to pay for treatment. It offers comfort in a difficult world. Comfort which should be available to everyone equally since we are all, equally, citizens of our country.  We may not all be able to contribute equally on an economic level but that is a mere function of capitalism and not of human worth and value.

According to American detractors there are hordes of Canadians dying due to unacceptable wait times. Scores of Canadians trip easily across the border for treatment there that they, ostensibly, cannot receive at home – a fallacy which has gained second wind by the one Canadian woman willing to pour shame on her country through U.S. Republican ads because she wasn’t willing to wait for treatment here, (although the direness of her diagnosis and length of her wait still reside somewhere in that nebulous neighbourhood of right wing media scuffing and prevarication). Is it possible that these American pundits believe that Canadians would allow this unbelievable death rate due to exponential wait times continue were it true?  Do they imagine that we have no political will, awareness or power such that we would allow the continuance of these death rates? What level of apathy must they attribute to the Canadian public!

In any case, all of this is just my very grateful reaction in defence of our wonderful universal healthcare. The bottom line is that our system should have little if any relevance to the current American debate since Obama’s bill is about as close to our own system as the Andromeda Galaxy is to the Milky Way.  Obama’s bill would allow for a mix of private and public funding. Ours doesn’t.  Obama’s bill isn’t universal, ours is. The list goes on. It strikes me that in their effort to tear down anything Obama is trying to build, these people are willing to attack their friends and neighbours. A better friend and neighbour Americans couldn’t have than Canada. We have an innate love and admiration for their country. They are our biggest trading partner as we are theirs. Our cultures are intermeshed, our friendship deep and our history rich and lengthy. Our border is, indeed, the longest undefended border in the world. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes.

I love the healthcare we have in Canada. It gives me untold comfort. With three children this is a very vital part of my security. Americans, rightly, worry about national security. It may be that we all have different perceptions of the meaning of national security, but surely, at its most fundamental level, it can mean no more than the protection of each citizen’s right to live. Given this context what could afflict a nation’s people more, threaten its security more profoundly, than the inability to receive medical care? Just look around you at third world countries where malaria, polio and other illnesses are still the scourge.

Codicil: After having posted this I realized that it did come across as overly strident. I neglected to say that I believe the overwhelming number of Americans do not hold the views of this vocal minority. I did not intend to portray that view at all. But the minority who are so stentorian manage to project an image that, at times, overwhelms the majority. Most Americans, I sincerely believe, want the best for every single individual within their borders and don’t agree that attacking the Canadian system is the way to cast dispersion on Obama’s plan.

In addition, I strongly urge everyone to read David’s letter to President Obama about his son Woody. I challenge anyone to read it and still argue against healthcare reform in the U.S. while retaining a modicum of humanity. There is a link to the letter on the sidebar. In addition, for the lighter side of anti-Obamacare protests, check this out; “The Funniest Protest Signs Of 2009” (PHOTOS)