You may have heard Greens refer to the other three national parties as the “old-line” parties. I’ve never been a big fan of this term since I consider it to be a little negative and mean-spirited (though I almost changed my mind when Peter Kent casually used it to refer to his own party in a conversation with me). Instead, I call them the status quo parties. The Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP represent business as usual, with their only differences being largely aesthetic. In the words of Christopher Waddell, they all “seem struck by a collective crisis of imagination.”
That’s why it wasn’t surprising to here Michael Hlinka (Metro Morning’s business commentator, and my neighbor) this morning (on the radio, not at my door) saying that this Conservative budget is almost identical to what we would have gotten from the Liberals. It even contains specific Liberal promises, as well as all the stuff the NDP negotiated to prop up the Liberals a year ago. (Makes you question all the time, energy, and money that went into the election, doesn’t it?)
The main difference, according to the Globe and Mail, is that the Conservatives are taking dangerous financial risks, hoping that the global economy will continue to outperform at an extremely unlikely rate. The Globe concludes by saying that the Conservatives have taken Canada “too close to the deficit brink…counting on their commodity chickens to keep producing. It is too easy for the perilous outside world to dash those forecasts, and spoil our collective party. And that is too great a risk to take for votes.”
And they’re only talking about a fiscal deficit, to say nothing of the social and environmental deficits which continue to build up. Either way, this budget takes is further down the same road. And that’s a bad thing, because this road ends at a cliff.