Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday September 1, 2020
With a New Leader, Conservatives Look to Unseat Justin Trudeau
In keeping with the general upheaval that has marked this year, the Conservative Party of Canada announced its new leader at an unusual time: in the middle of the United States’ presidential nominating conventions.
August 25, 2020
Mr. O’Toole, who is from Ontario, offered shout-outs to Indigenous Canadians, people who are “Black, white, brown or from any race or creed,” union members, L.G.B.T.Q. Canadians and people who “joined the Canadian family five weeks ago or five generations ago.”
During his leadership campaign, he pitched himself as a “true blue,” or hard-right-leaning, Conservative, without being too specific about policies. But his record in politics shows that he’s from the moderate side of his party.
During his debut news conference as leader, Mr. Toole moved to distance himself from the party’s social conservatives on issues like abortion.
January 23, 2020
That tack, Professor Marland said, may prove critical to expanding the party’s support in Eastern Canada and among women.
“I’m absolutely convinced that the Conservative leader is going to have to tackle social issues in a much stronger way than has been the case in the past,” he said. “Historically, this has been a problem for parties of the right.”
The contest to elect a new Conservative leader brought with it speculation that Mr. Trudeau’s government might fall shortly after it starts a new session of Parliament on Sept. 23 with a throne speech.
Regardless, a longer lead time to a vote may benefit Mr. O’Toole and his effort to expand the Conservatives beyond their base. (NYT)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday July 9, 2020
Highlights of Bill Morneau’s 2020 fiscal ‘snapshot’
November 2, 2016
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has delivered an update on federal spending and economic projections linked to the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morneau is calling today’s statement an “economic and fiscal snapshot” rather than the traditional economic and fiscal statement that comes between budgets.
Morneau was forced to put off his spring budget in March after the devastating economic effects of the pandemic became clearer.
October 19, 2017
The deficit for 2020-21 is expected to rise to $343.2 billion from the $34.4 billion deficit projected before the pandemic.
A big chunk of that additional deficit can be attributed to the $212 billion in direct support measures the federal government is providing to individuals and businesses.
The snapshot says that, aside from the pandemic program spending, the economic slowdown is estimated to have added another $81.3 billion to the deficit in 2020-21.
March, 1, 2018
The Canadian economy is projected to shrink by 6.8 per cent this year before bouncing back by 5.5 per cent next year, making this crisis the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression. The economy is expected to decline in 2020-21 more than twice as much as it did in 2009-10 in response to the global financial crisis.
Due to the the financial supports provided by the federal government, the federal debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to rise from 31 per cent in 2019-20 to 49 per cent in 2020-21.
The federal government says it’s getting a better deal on that debt through very low interest rates. “As a consequence of these developments, the government will save over $4 billion in public debt charges in 2020-21 compared to the forecast presented in the 2019 Economic and Fiscal Update in December 2019,” the snapshot said.
Between February and April, 5.5 million Canadians either lost their jobs or saw their work hours significantly reduced.Those losses pushed the unemployment rate to 13.7 per cent in May — the highest rise on record — from a pre-crisis low of 5.5 per cent in January.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that without government pandemic programs, the GDP would have contracted by more than 10 per cent and unemployment would have risen by another 2 per cent. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday May 6, 2020
Science vs Politics; Lives vs Livelihoods
This accursed pandemic has brought us a range of new expressions. Flattening the curve. Social distancing — or physical distancing if you prefer. Self isolation. Stay home, stay safe.
And then there’s this one. Lives over livelihoods.
Living in a Pandemic
Where, exactly, this originated in the COVID-19 context, we do not know. But it’s one of the better descriptors and we can expect to hear a lot more of it now that most jurisdictions are beginning to talk and act on reopening society and the economy. It works either way, too. Livelihoods over lives.
That’s the philosophy driving decision-making in jurisdictions where reopening the economy and relaxing pandemic societal rules are judged more important than minimizing the human toll of the virus. This would include the many states in the U.S. where governments are rushing to normalize life and working. In many of these states, they haven’t yet begun the flatten the curve. They still report many new cases and new deaths every day.
And yet the governors in those states, with full and urgent support from the Trump administration, are moving faster and faster to throw their economies wide open. Hair salons, tattoo parlours, beaches, restaurants — you name it.
Health and medical voices in America are warning of dire consequences. The most respected disease projections in that country now predict that previous death estimates will double, largely become of reduced distancing, more openness and increased mobility. By the end of May, the models say, daily reported cases will double. Up until recently, these models were regularly cited by the Trump White House as being gold standard. Now they are inaccurate, the president has decided.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is a loathesome character by any reasonable definition. But at least he is honest about America’s frenzied reopening. He says yes, more people will die, but that’s the price of renewed economic prosperity, and Americans just need to get used to it. Livelihoods over lives rules the day in Donald Trump’s America.
Thankfully, not so here in Canada and Ontario. Our political leaders still adhere to the lives over livelihoods mantra. But it’s getting increasingly difficult, as you can see by the growing agitation among people of a certain political stripe to get back to business. Not every Canadian who needs the emergency benefit (CERB) has received it yet, but already Andrew Scheer wants to talk about cutting it back so as not to be a “disincentive” to get people back to work.
You can certainly see the stress on Ontario Premier Doug Ford. This week, he is once again holding out optimism for some normalcy over the Victoria Day weekend. Just a week or so ago he did the same thing and then had to walk back his optimism because it wasn’t supported by health data.
Anyone with empathy has to feel for Ford. He’s a business-first politician in an environment that won’t allow him to be business-first. He desperately wants to hold out a light at the end of the tunnel, but he has to be careful. If he overpromises again, his credibility takes a hit. If he presides over a government that moves too quickly, he knows he will wear the increased fatality counts, just like Quebec Premier Francois Legault will if his overly-aggressive approach to reopening backfires (he has already had to delay his reopening by two weeks).
But Ford, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is unwavering. He will not put the economy first at the expense of more dead people. Trudeau and Ford will not put livelihoods ahead of lives. Even though not doing so will cost more money and inflict more economic devastation. We don’t know about you, but we’re happy to be governed by people with their priorities in the right order. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday May 2, 2020
Tiff Macklem to lead the Bank of Canada
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has appointed Tiff Macklem, the former senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, to take over the top job at the central bank as it navigates the uncertainty of a pandemic-driven recession.
February 11, 2009
Macklem is currently the dean of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto, but had spent decades with the Bank of Canada before starting that appointment.
Macklem began his career at the bank in 1984. He was widely expected to win the contest for bank governor in 2013, but was beaten out by Stephen Poloz, who was then CEO of Export Development Canada.
Poloz’s term ends June 2.
The transition to new leadership comes as millions of Canadians have signed up for government aid and companies big and small are relying on federally backed wage subsidies to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Friday’s announcement, Morneau said he’s confident Macklem’s expertise in financial markets will help the central bank navigate an economic crisis never before seen in Canada.
“The bank has to be humble about what it doesn’t know. There’s a lot we don’t know about this disease. There’s a lot that medical experts don’t know about this disease,” Macklem said during his unveiling in Ottawa.
“But the Bank of Canada has tremendous analytic economic financial capacity to analyze what’s going on in the economy, and the important role for the Bank of Canada is to provide Canadians with as much information as it can honestly provide as to what is happening and what the recovery could look like, recognizing that we’re probably going to have to look at more than one scenario.”
In the past months, Poloz and Morneau have appeared at several joint news conferences to show a co-ordinated approach on monetary and fiscal policy to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic and global oil shocks.
Morneau has announced more than $250 billion in direct financial aid, credit support and tax deferrals to help offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday April 30, 2020
Coronavirus Proves Capitalism Has Always Been a Lie
April 2, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause mass death and upheaval around the world, there has been an unexpected side effect: it has unmasked capitalism. In the U.S., this unmasking can be seen in both the Federal Reserve’s actions as well as Congress’ coronavirus aid legislation, the CARES Act, both of which reveal critical truths about an economic system that has been sold to working people as one thing and as quite another to banks and corporations. To shed some much needed light on the intricacies of our financial situation during the latest crisis, “Scheer Intelligence” host Robert Scheer spoke with acclaimed economist and attorney Ellen Brown.
There are plenty of parallels to be drawn between the last financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, with the clear exception being that now we’re not just dealing with a broken economy but with a deadly virus. Brown, who has written over a dozen books on economics and is the founder of the Public Banking Institute, explains how, unfortunately, the Covid-19 bailouts will once again betray Americans just as the 2008 stimulus did.
November 14, 2008
“In 2008 the bailout was basically of the banks, or we had quantitative easing that went to the banks,” the author tells Scheer. “And then the idea was that the banks were supposed to lend that into the real economy, but of course, they didn’t do it. … But now we have even more credit facilities [and] the problem is, they’re all going to help the big corporations, and the hedge funds, and virtually every sort of shady business. Things the Federal Reserve couldn’t lend to before, [but] now they have new ways of doing it.”
The nefarious uses of the CARES Act have been blasted all over the press, and now news has emerged that the Federal Reserve is planning on handing big corporations a whopping half a trillion dollars with “no strings attached” and zero interest. As Scheer points out, however, this seemingly miraculous economic response at times of crisis, when money is suddenly conjured out of thin air, is nothing new.
“The fact is, this is like what happens in wartime. You know, you had the Great Depression, [and when ] we went to war, suddenly [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt was able to really spend money,” says the “Scheer Intelligence” host, “And as a result, we got out of the Great Depression. In wartime, the government just prints money, finds it somewhere, and no questions asked.
Living in a Pandemic
“And that’s what happened now,” Scheer goes on. “Because of this pandemic, Congress just said, OK, we’re going to find–what, you said $4 trillion; I’m sure it’ll grow to $8 trillion. They don’t do that ever about, say, dealing with poverty or education, or any of these things; they always are very tight with the dollar. But now, because we have this warlike situation, they can suddenly find this money, and they can spend it in a totally unaccountable way.”
March 7, 2020
But just as the deadly pandemic is becoming yet another opportunity for Wall Street and corporations to swindle the public with the help of the government, it’s also finally made one thing very clear: Universal Basic Income is absolutely possible.
“As you say, if they could find the money for all that,” Brown tells Scheer in response to his summary regarding how money has always been funneled to the top, “they could clearly find the money for the people. My preferred option [is what] they call ‘helicopter money.’ Money that’s just created by the Federal Reserve and flown–theoretically, the original term came from flying helicopters over the people and just dropping the money equally on everybody. And we could still do that, and that’s called a Universal Basic Income.”
Brown goes on to explain in detail why it’s not only affordable, but won’t cause the massive inflation that critics so often write about whenever the measure is suggested.
“It’s not going to be inflationary,” she explains, “and that’s because of the way money comes into existence. We don’t really have a money system; we have a credit system. All of our money is credit; it’s created as credit on the books of banks, and it’s extinguished when the loans are paid off.”
Perhaps her most shocking calculation is that were the current stimulus money to be divvied up and sent directly to families, it would end up being $13,000 per person, not the measly $1,200 the government is sending out as a one-off. Where, you may ask, did all the rest of that money go? As Brown and Scheer continually remind us, it’s been sent to the companies that pull all the strings in our rigged system. (KCRW)