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Uffish Thoughts: Where Should Our Government Make its Announcements? March 6, 2012

Posted by klondykewriter in Uffish Thoughts.
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Uffish Thoughts: Where Should Our Government Make its Announcements?

By Dan Davidson

February 9, 2012

Star, Feb 13/12

– 587 words –

I don’t suppose it’s Mr. Harper’s surprise announcement about the impending Old Age Supplement  (OAS) crisis that bothered me quite so much as it was the place where he chose to make it.  There are proper places to make policy announcements. They should be made on the campaign trail, when a political party is setting out its agenda for the coming years, or they should be made in the House of Commons.

They should not be made in a foreign country, and Davos, Switzerland, fits that definition as far as I can see.

I can’t blame the current government for starting this practice of ignoring Parliament. If I recall correctly it was the last real Tory government, under Brian Mulroney, that began making budget announcements in front of chambers of commerce and other business gatherings, and there have been a number of fairly important briefs that have since been made public while our elected officials were making speeches in New York and Washington.

This really ought not to happen.

The Harper Government (as they like to style themselves) or the ReformaTories (as I label them) may see this kind of announcement as being the equivalent of the “warning shots” that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson thinks it should be okay to fire in order to deal with a threat.

Personally I think the Justice Minister has been watching too many American police shows on television. Bullets that are fired, whether up in the air or above someone’s head, have to come down and impact somewhere, after all.

It’s always amazed me that there isn’t more reported collateral damage (military speak for unintended death and destruction) in places where firing live ammo into the air seems to be a normal, everyday reaction to strong emotion.

In this case, the warning shot about the OAS seems to be falling on the government’s toes. Even fiscally conservative commentators seem to agree that this approach to dealing with seniors has more negative than positives attached to it.

Several have noted, once again, that the government’s determination to cut the GST back to 5% just before the world financial collapse of 2008-09 was not good timing, and it’s fairly obvious that the debt incurred due to Canada’s Action Plan (which was passed by a minority government, so it was something that all parties felt was necessary) would not be so large if we had kept the rate at 6%.

The latest word from the Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page is that the government’s panicky projections about the OAS are unfounded, which is sort of good news in a way. The bad news part of that analysis is that Page based his revised projections on the government’s decision to freeze the increases on health care funding and tie the Canada Health Transfer to GDP after 2016-17.

This, you may recall, was an announcement that was made by the government without any hint that it was at all negotiable, a fact that caused quite a bit of consternation amongst the premiers when the implications of the plan finally sank in. Even our own Mr. Pasloski, who at first pronounced himself sanguine with this direction, had second thoughts after sitting down with his political peers.

When they finally reach some conclusion about all of this (assuming that the combined weight of all the nation’s fist ministers can actually change the federal finance minister’s mind) I just hope the policy announcement will be made in this country.

-30-

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