Campaign season is underway in Canada- whether officially or not- as everything in the news is being used by one party to attack the others. This week’s hilariously weak, but topical connections that were unnecessarily drawn were Conservative attacks on the NDP regarding Greece. The PMO issued a statement highlight that Thomas Mulcair wanted to throw Canadian support (and tax dollars) behind a European Union bailout of Greece which, as I’m sure everyone and their grandmother has heard, may go unpaid following the so called ‘Greferendum’.
“As Greece defaults on loans from the International Monetary Fund, we are reminded that the Liberals and NDP called for Canada to join the list of countries now owed billions by Greece,” said the PMO. That plan was put forward by the G20 and the International Monetary Fund so, while hindsight may be 20/20, criticizing people for agreeing with economic policy forwarded by the likes of Germany is a serious stretch. But when has that ever stopped the rhetoric train?
Sharing his thought as well was the ever-outspoken Jason Kenny, who decided to quote the woman of his dreams, Margaret Thatcher, in a shot at the NDP. He so skillfully tweeted, “the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money to spend.”
Pierre Poilievre joined in on the chirping via a tweet reading “NDP policy: be like Greece.” This preposterous notion that the NDP, by formerly supporting the dead-broke Greeks, means intending to follow in their footsteps adds to the trend of Conservative Cabinet Ministers misunderstanding things on Twitter. You thought they would have learned their lesson by now.
Mr. Poilievre also ought to watch his tongue given the Canadian economy shrank in the first quarter of 2014 and is most likely to shrink even more next quarter. This is a sign that, despite what Finance Minister Joe Oliver says, Canada is probably in a recession. This signals another likely round of interest rate cuts by the Bank of Canada that will keep the Canadian Dollar under 80 cents US through at least the end of the year. The Conservative economic record is not as shiny a it once was, which means that the real election decision Canadians have to make in 2015 is whose economic policies suck the least.
The NDP are not without their fair share of lunacy regarding Greece. Manitoba MP Nikki Ashton tweeted support for the Greek anti-austerity ‘oxi’ (no) vote, touting it as a victory for democracy as if a majority yes vote would have somehow been less democratic. This is an even poorer decision considering supporting not paying off debts is not something an opposition being critiqued for poor economic policy should be engaging in, especially given Ashton’s party was clearly vehemently in favour of being a creditor of the nation is she now congratulating for trying not to pay.
The problems in Greece are sure to have repercussions globally but, to underscore how idiotic it is to make this situation a Canadian federal political issue, it is worth taking into account that annual trade with Greece represents just 10% of daily trade with the United States.