Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cheers, Fraser!

Is it just me, or has the Conservative Party of Canada finally been outed for not really being conservative?  Let me explain what I'm thinking, and then you can let me know if you think I've missed something.

Earlier this week, the Fraser Institute, a conservative but non-partisan research group based in Canada and the US, released a report saying that Ottawa's 47 billion dollar "Economic Action Plan" was responsible for 0.2 percent of the 1.1 percent economic growth that happened in the middle of 2009. They went so far as to say that the plan will do more harm than good in 2010 and leave us with a 53.8 billion dollar deficit this year.

Now, I've always gotten a kick out of the Fraser Institute claiming to be non-partisan. When they celebrated their 30th anniversary back in 2004, Mr Harper sent them a videotaped message and showed off his Fraser Institute tie. These are the guys who extol the theories of Friedrich Hayek, leader of the Austrian School of economics. Do you know his work? The Margaret Thatcher administration was a big fan, and so was the Ronald Reagan administration. Oh, and that's the Ronald Reagan who destroyed the US economy, not the fantasy one that gets so much conservative airtime now. 

Anyway, these Fraser chaps are, well... why not check out the "What We Think" page from their website? See? These are some public healthcare-bashing, public school-bashing, immigration-bashing folks, to say nothing of their anti-science, pro-corporate "research findings" regarding smoking and climate change.

Now, most researchers recognize that starting from a biased opinion is not the right way to work. You're supposed to gather facts, examine them, and let them shape your opinion. I don't think that means Fraser research is bad, it's just that you have to be careful in reading their conclusions because, well, because they've made it clear "from the get go" that their research is targeted at supporting their already-established theories.

And their theories are conservative. And their theories were supported by candidate Harper, and by first-term Harper. It seemed to be a real love-in until the National Post ran an article last fall claiming that economic recovery had already started and the the PM's vaunted "Economic Action Plan" would only make things worse.  The article was by Fraserites Niels Veldhuis and Milagros Palacios. Recognize the name of the lead author?

So now the battle is joined to see who is the right kind of conservative (if you'll pardon the pun). Now the name-calling and nose-thumbing can begin.

In the meanwhile, has anyone else out there noticed the changes to the webpage for "Canada's Economic Action Plan" this week? Last month, as I remember it, the website showed some photos and and gave visitors a great many links to "Watch The Television Commercials", but no real details at all on what was being done or on how to register or participate in any of the recovery plans. 

Since the argument started, it seems to me that a major overhaul has happened. There are some new, politically motivated headings, like "REAL ACTIONS" and "WHAT IS IN THE PLAN FOR ME?". There are dozens of new links (though some are duplicates), dozens of new photos (though some of those are duplicates, too), and a whole lot of very large print promises.  They've even thrown up all kinds of external links so that a visitor can, you know, go somewhere else to register or participate.

It seems to me that the website used to be a poor attempt to try and convince Canadians that the ruling party was doing something to help economic recovery.  Now it seems that the website has become a poor and desperate attempt to convince Canadians the ruling party hasn't just thrown away 47 billion dollars and crippled our economy.

That's my opinion, but I could be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time today.