Playing at Politics While the People Suffer

From James Laxer’s blog:

As the Liberals meet with the Conservatives to talk about the kind of stimulus package that needs to be included in the upcoming budget, there is a serious danger that what will be involved is low-level political maneuvering. The Conservatives will be aiming at a budget that contains enough stimulus to coax the Ignatieff Liberals into voting to support it and dump the idea of a Liberal-NDP coalition government. The Liberals will want to make it appear that they have won sufficient concessions to allow them to vote for the budget and survive the political onslaught from the centre and left for keeping Stephen Harper in power.

Over the next few weeks, it is essential to shift the debate to what Canada needs not only to safeguard Canadian wage and salary earners, pensioners, students, farmers and small businesses from the immediate crisis, but also to look to how we should restructure our economy for the 21st century.

There need be no contradiction between these two agendas. Indeed, the best way to protect Canadians today is for the government to invest for the future.

The Conservatives will want tax cuts and immediate bailouts to companies with few strings attached. The Liberals will want to point to a high dollar figure in the overall package that they can claim to have won.

What the nation needs is well thought out stimulus that will keep the public investments as much as possible inside Canada generating wages and salaries here. That way, the stimulus will not leak out in the form of additional demand for imports. Tax cuts risk generating higher imports and are the least effective form of stimulus.

One area (certainly not the only area) that requires imaginative thinking is the transportation sector. What follows is an introductory discussion of what needs to be done in that sector.

Please read the rest here

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