But we’re rubber and he’s glue

It is arguably one of the best PR campaigns in Canadian history. Beautiful road signs are next to construction sites, ads showing Stephen Harper wearing a hardhat and labouring alongside blue collar workers litter TV screens, and the campaign’s website preaches inspiration in an attempt to tell Canadians that Harper cares.

But Canada’s Economic Action Plan is not as good as it seems. It takes any project being executed by the federal or provincial government and slaps a “Canada’s Economic Action Plan” road sign next to it.  According to its website, “Canada’s Economic Action Plan (EAP) is delivering a $62 billion shot in the arm to economy.” This overspending process is following the example of countries like the United States and Britain, in an attempt to increase a deficit to get a nation out of the recession. If governments are not spending during a recession, no one is. People are holding on tighter to their pennies, and it is only through government encouragement that they will spend them. It is traditional for governments to run high deficits during the time of economic downturn (in fact, the well-known economist John Keynes recommends this), and although this is usually referred to as “good debt,” it still does not justify the amount of spending the Harper government has so far completed.

On the other hand, it does follow the adage that you have to spend money in order to make money. Harper certainly is spending – in the last year, the Conservatives have spent “most” of the $37 billion of the planned 2009-2010 stimulus fund from both federal and provincial/territorial. They are also looking forward to spending over $25 billion in the next year.  The government is additionally encouraging spending through programs like the Home Renovation Tax Credit.

Yet the EAP is dangerous. On the surface, it looks great – the Conservative government is spending money and it looks as though they are investing it in education, the less-fortunate, and making Canada a better place overall. However it has been suggested that those communities in Tory ridings are actually getting more money than ridings belonging to another party.

Unfortunately, the details on the EAP fail to tell us how much money was spent on those signs that keep popping up everywhere (many of which were actually produced by a company out of Tacoma, Washington), informing us that this particular project is part of the EAP. Nor does it tell us how much money went into this beautiful PR campaign, complemented by a colour scheme and a high tech website (much better than the drab website of the federal government).
The EAP is nothing more than a budget with huge potential deficits and an awesome PR campaign. We have no choice but to prove to Stephen Harper that we are smart enough to see through his supposedly clever advertising.

As Canadians, we should feel insulted that our Prime Minister would find our intelligence so questionable that he and his team believe they can put up colourful road signs, dig up roads and campuses, and have us cheer them on, shouting, “Yay for economic stimulus!” We have to see beyond the smoke and mirrors and realize what is really happening: the federal government is overspending, and eventually the PR campaign will be over – once the Conservatives feel comfortable in their ability to win an election. The NDP had the dinner table, the Liberals had the Green Shift, and now the Conservatives, feeling a little left out, have re-labelled their budget as this flashy “new” idea of economic stimulus. It is unfortunate that they have decided to play this battle of wits using my tax dollars.

//Samantha Thompson
News Editor

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com