September 17, 2015

Leaders Debate: Ezra Levant explains why every Canadian should be worried

Rebel Staff

Stephen Harper — whatever else you may think about him — has a mastery of Canada’s economy. It’s not just that he’s an economist by profession. It’s that he has steered Canada through a series of world economic crises since the 2008 Great Recession. Real life experience — what works and what doesn’t. And unlike his thinly-briefed opponents, he knows exactly how much the government has spent on everything from veterans to bridges. 

 Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair couldn’t care less about reality — they have other things on their minds.

Watch: Ezra Levant's reaction to The Globe and Mail's Leader's Debate

Watch: Brian Lilley sets the stage on each leader’s economic policy.



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commented 2015-09-18 07:52:22 -0400
To those who think Justin Trudeau won the debate, I would like to point out a few things. A debate is to persuade others that your point of view is correct. To use logic to show that you are correct. Given that, what was I persuaded about last night?
One, Justin Trudeau though he was at a boxing match. His performance was based on interruptions and stale talking points that twisted the truth and presented a false view of things. Case in point. The supposed inferior economic performance of the Prime Minister in relation to his predecessors. Doing that is comparing apples and oranges. Any person can look good when the world economy is going gang busters but it takes skill to manage things in a storm, which is what PM Stephen Harper has done.
What I found concerning about his idea was that he proposed that we go into deficit because the cost of borrowing was so low. That is all well and good if you pay it back quickly, but what happens if the interest rates go up as they invariably will? Suddenly things aren’t so rosy and we are on the same path his father sent us on forty years ago, with the same disastrous finical results.

Tom Mulcair has some good ideas and some scary ones. He performed well I thought and explained is ideas well. He, however fell into the same trap Bob Rae did. Raising the tax rate does not mean that revenue increases, in fact it can actually decrease it.

I felt the PM explained his position well (when the others allowed him to speak) and was especially taken with his three T’s and thee I’s plan. If I remember they are Taxes, Training and Trade, Investment, Income. I didn’t get the third ‘I’. I wish he would expand on these things. I would put an end to those who claim he doesn’t have a plan.
As for the moderator, the less said about him the better. However I would take issue with him that the PM needs to come up with something ‘new.’ Why? new isn’t always better and if one thinks that Justin or Tom are presenting something ‘new’ then they are mistaken. What they propose has been tried many times before with disastrous results.
In the end it was Stephen Harper (he is still the PM Jane, and should be referred to as such) who was the most persuasive, the most logical and the one you want steering the ship of state thought the storms we see in this world.
commented 2015-09-18 07:47:06 -0400
Yes Harper isn’t aggressive in debates. He is more statesman like listening and responding while dealing with liars snapping at his heels. I have never seen such blatant abuse of truth than I witnessed from Trudeau and Mulcair . Total disregard for facts.
commented 2015-09-18 07:42:27 -0400
Poor Jimmy Da Moron no one really thinks you get paid, you’re too dumb to get paid. More like unemployed like Brinkman.
commented 2015-09-18 07:26:12 -0400
Not sure why Harper didn’t jump on Justy every time (12 times maybe?) he said, “now is the time to invest because Canada has a low debt to GDP ratio”. Correct! Courtesy of Harpers effective stewardship of the economy.
Stephen had that on a tee.
commented 2015-09-18 06:18:36 -0400
Jimmy, you asked me once why I am not a “liberal” or why I am not more left-wing. I actually thought about it a great deal, and that’s a tough question to answer without coming across as insulting or condescending. But one reason is that I prefer a conservative approach to economic policy, which is itself based on a more laissez-faire attitude when it comes to individual economic freedom (which in turn, I believe, fosters freedom in most other areas of life). So I see this is a prime example of the fundamental difference between your (liberal/ndp? assumptions…) and my (conservative/libertarian) worldviews. I read your arguments and the links you provide regularly. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t, but on this particular story, I (very respectfully) disagree with just about everything you wrote.
First of all, your link to struck me as kind of funny, given what you’ve written about TheRebel, and Ezra Levant, in particular. I’m curious why you consider Jessie Brown and Canadaland to be more authoritative than TheRebel? Brown himself is a former CBC staffer, and yet even the CBC denounced him and Canadaland for playing fast and loose with the facts when it comes to news reporting:
I just don’t see how either of your links put the surplus into “perspective” at all. On the one hand, you cite even though it’s as much if not more of an opinion-based site than TheRebel and has been similarly denounced by the CBC. On the other hand, you also cited an opinion piece published in the Toronto Star (a notable leftist newspaper), submitted by UNIFOR “economists” Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford. I’m sorry Jimmy, and I don’t mean anything personal, but I don’t give the opinions of two UNIFOR staffers on economic policy any weight. None of their claims are truly factual as they’ve been stripped of context and limited to parameters that artificially tend to augment their credibility. Don’t you find it telling that they restricted their comparison to the post-war years (after the Great Depression in the 1930s), and completely ignore or seek to minimize the effect of worldwide events on Canada’s economy? UNIFOR has its own agenda and interests to protect.
In my view, like some environmental, charitable, religious or other non-profit organizations, both public and private unions have grown so large that their raison d’être has changed. Once, they may have operated under the sincere belief and desire to protect the rights of workers, but now, first and foremost, their goal is corporate survival and maintaining political influence. Personally, I think that anyone who understands why unions formed to begin with should easily be able to appreciate why and how they’ve become irrelevant today (at least in Canada). There is so much over-lapping legislation at all levels of government directed at protecting the rights of workers nowadays that the basic need for unions has been more than satisfied, such that unions are no longer necessary, or even desirable. No offence to any union members reading, I’m just expressing my opinion. And not that anyone else need agree with me, but my opinion is at least as valuable (if not more so, since I’ve got nothing to gain/lose) as that of UNIFOR. UNIFOR is spending millions of dollars of its members money on anti-Harper/Conservative political ads because it (apparently) has a lot to lose since Bill C-377 passed. OOOOoooohhhhhhhh!!! Scary mandatory financial reporting that’s open to public scrutiny!!!! How dare those evil Conservatives, whatever will they come up with next???!!!!!
My apologies for the shouting, but it’s what UNIFOR wants people to think. It wants them to fear and hate Harper and the Conservatives, and it’s willing to spend a ton of money to make that happen. Worse, it uses the scurrilous legal pretext that the new financial reporting requirements somehow infringe upon collective bargaining rights and are (sssttrrretchh!) unconstitutional. Accordingly, UNIFOR wants the Conservatives out so that the new law doesn’t go through, or at least becomes much easier to challenge. Jimmy, suspend your preconceptions and just think about it rationally for a second. Why is UNIFOR so steadfastly reluctant to publicly release its detailed financials? When you consider its activities (from sponsoring numerous anti-Harper political/election ads and commercials to coordinating with the media to broadcast its desperately self-interested op/eds) there’s bound to be a rather large price tag (but that’s the thing, no one knows for sure exactly how much $$). Quite frankly, I was shocked when I first learned that unions in Canada were not already required to publicly file annual, audited financial statements.
One of life’s cruel little jokes, like when I received my first invoice for provincial health care premiums. That’s actually one of the moments I recall where my then still rather adolescent, slightly commie-pinko worldview, noticeably cracked. All it took was having an income to shatter the childhood illusion of so-called universal, “free” healthcare in Canada.
Jimmy, to further answer your question about why I’m not a liberal, I have to say that I was one, once, but I’m not anymore. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, yada yada yada. But I would argue that my current worldview, what you would call “conservative”, is much less susceptible to cracking under factual scrutiny. It’s still a bias, obviously, but the hardest part isn’t acknowledgement, it’s setting your bias aside in order to distinguish fact from fiction, even when the fiction better coheres with your most fundamental beliefs.
commented 2015-09-18 04:25:30 -0400

You mean like how everyone else keeps popping in here and I talk to the same people daily?

I know you would just prefer to have a Stephen Harper orgy with his fan club, but opposing views are important.
commented 2015-09-18 04:03:15 -0400
Jimmy Da Silva … You keep popping in here like Justin would “Look at me, Look at me … Did you see what I just did?” My god, like a toddler about to advance to pull-ups, pointing to the toilet … I guess adults do wear them too. Maybe you could show your remarkable essays to angry Uncle Creepy for that special hug in private?
commented 2015-09-18 03:58:05 -0400

Sorry, but I am not getting paid – but I am entertained by the notion of that conspiracy theory.

Did you actually listen to the Canadaland episode?
commented 2015-09-18 03:46:19 -0400
Jimmy Da Silva; you must get paid by the left to comment. Only then could you post these comments with a ‘straight face’. You are a word smith willing to take anyone’s money for a profit to yourself.
commented 2015-09-18 03:36:46 -0400
The “Manefesto” should have been a major issue; as in “A new idea to kick start the economy” – I wonder if Mulclair would have taken credit for this, someone should have brought it up regardless. Two observations which may seem irrelevant, but might be helpful; Prime minister Harper allows the other two candidates interrupt far too often – he has good manners where clearly the other two do not and he’s being voiced over. Who ever hosts these debates should have the ability to mute the mic when it’s not their turn when asked a question – Wouldn’t that simplify this problem? It also bothers me (and maybe I’m old school) , how Steven Harper is not address as Prime Minister Harper. I believe this is more recent, and I can’t recall the lack of respect in previous years. One last note; Could there possibly be a figure or an approximation revealed to the public as to how many actual terrorists posing as refugees have be denied since the crisis? I believe this would be helpful in demonstrating that a " Kum-by-ya" approach in forgoing the proper proceeders; might expose the true reality Canadians face, had this been under the careless direction of Trudeau or Mulclair. Our Prime minister also sounds like he’s coming down with a bug and must be absolutely exhausted. Could someone make him get some rest so he can knock these two clowns to back row seats in parliament – or better yet, have them Tweeting with Elizabeth May?
commented 2015-09-18 02:48:47 -0400
Harper’s economic record the worst in Canada’s postwar history

The Conservatives portray themselves as capable economic managers. But their record proves the opposite.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have always portrayed themselves as the most capable managers of Canada’s economy. And since pocketbook issues usually dominate any election campaign, that reputation — deserved or not — served them well in the past.

This time around, however, the economic terrain is proving less friendly. The closer we got to the fixed election date, the worse the economy became, undermining the “stay the course” message at the heart of Conservative strategy. Indeed, Canada slipped into outright recession in the first half of 2015. Undaunted, the prime minister shrugged this off as “a couple of weak months,” and promises better times around the corner — but only if Canadians re-elect his party.

Economists can debate whether this year’s recession — the second on Harper’s watch — is already over, or whether falling business investment and rising consumer debt will delay a rebound. But the most damning aspect of the Conservative legacy is not a short-term cyclical downturn. It is a longer-run failure to stimulate growth, job-creation, innovation, and investment.

After all, the only reason the oil price slump could tip the whole country into recession is because the economy had so little momentum in the first place. We’ve endured years of subpar growth (“serial disappointment,” in Stephen Poloz’s words), long before the present downturn arrived.

Yes, the 2008-09 financial crisis was part of the problem: but it’s not the only recession Canada has experienced, nor was it the worst. More important, the slow and inconsistent recovery from that downturn ranks as the weakest in postwar history. Then, before the damage was really repaired, Canada slipped into recession again.

We have developed a comprehensive portrait of economic performance under every Canadian government from 1946 through 2014, based on official data on 16 conventional indicators (everything from employment and labour force participation, to growth, productivity and indebtedness). Our results refute the self-congratulatory rhetoric of Conservative speechwriters.

Far from unleashing a business-led boom, Harper has in fact presided over the weakest economic era in Canada’s postwar history. For example, from 2006 through 2014 (not even counting the current downturn), Canada experienced the slowest average economic growth since the Great Depression (measured by the expansion of GDP after inflation and population growth). Harper wasn’t even close to the next-worst prime minister: another Conservative, Brian Mulroney.

Across other indicators, too (including job-creation, productivity, personal incomes, business investment, household debt, and inequality), the Harper government ranked last or second-last among all postwar governments. Its overall ranking was the worst of any prime minister since 1946.

The Conservative failure to elicit more business investment and exports has been especially damaging. Those are the two most strategic components of spending in a market economy. Conservatives promised that expensive corporate tax cuts (costing $15 billion per year) would boost investment, and that signing more free trade deals would do the same for exports. But neither worked. Exports hardly grew at all under Harper (the slowest in postwar history), and business investment was stagnant, now declining. Government spending cuts, enforced in earnest after the Conservatives won their majority in 2011, only exacerbated the macroeconomic funk.

In short, the Conservatives’ austere, business-led strategy has produced stagnation for the economy, and incredible uncertainty for Canadians. Families worry rightly that the traditional dream of shared prosperity is slipping away from them, and from their children.

On its own, of course, economic growth cannot solve all of society’s challenges. We must simultaneously ensure that economic gains are fairly distributed, maintain a proper balance between private consumption and public services, and invest in sustainable environmental practices. But without growth and job-creation, all those challenges get harder, not easier.

Canadians can work and produce more than ever. There are more of us, we are better educated, and our productivity has grown. We can have more of what we need, not less: including higher wages, better jobs, and stronger public programs. All we lack is the opportunity to put our capacities to work in decent jobs. The Conservative trickle-down vision, focused on enriching corporations and the investors who own them, has failed bitterly. We need an alternative vision, both hopeful and pragmatic, to mobilize Canada’s idle human and financial capital and build an inclusive, prosperous economy.

Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford are economists with Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union. Their full report on the economic performance of postwar prime ministers, Rhetoric and Reality, is available at
commented 2015-09-18 02:32:07 -0400
last nights debate was what we typically get in Canada, a hyper biased media moderator and leftist ideologues doing their best to shout down Harper.
Trudeau proved beyond doubt, with his impression of a red faced spoiled child stamping his feet screeching over and over ‘Canada IS in recession’, that he indeed is just not ready.
Mulcair, by what can only be described as an act of sheer willpower, held ol’ angry tom in check, and adopted the creepy uncle smile and had the tenor of a person saying what he was coached to say, not what he meant. tommy boy is a dyed in the wool socialist drooling at the prospect of foisting full on socialist chaos on Canada.
commented 2015-09-18 01:25:54 -0400
I liked the set behind the leaders. It reminded me of The Hilarious House of Frightenstein when I was a kid. Ooo; very scary.
commented 2015-09-18 00:50:21 -0400
That said, reading these comments Jimmy Da Silva comes off about as immature as Trudeau. Good on ya Jimmy Mate!
commented 2015-09-18 00:49:51 -0400
And thanks for stepping up to cover this. Kudos Brian was on hand. Good evaluation
commented 2015-09-18 00:36:03 -0400
Good job by Harper to downplay left wing attacks. The two underdogs taking extra time to promote their deficient agendas made them look even worse. Anyone who doesn’t see clearly PMSH ruled this is either deaf dumb or blind. Maybe all of the above
commented 2015-09-18 00:32:39 -0400
Why Globe-n-Mail say Mulcair won the debate? I find this rather dishonest. This is a disservice to all Canadians to show some face on TV that “thinks” someone won the debate. Prime Minister Harper did not just win the debate. He OWNED it since the beginning. I find also very bad that Mulcair had interrupted Harper every time at the peak of his speak, and neither Harper nor the moderator called him on that. Harper has to stop being nice and ask not to be interrupted. The message is hard to get anyways and the last thing he needs is his enemies including the moderator to shut him up.
commented 2015-09-18 00:25:26 -0400
Justin Trudeau came off very immature by talking over the guy who’s turn it was to speak. What an idiot. This was not a “debate” it came across as a grilling. Justin. He’s just not ready. And if at this age is not ready he’ll never be ready.
commented 2015-09-18 00:19:03 -0400
Stephen Harper is the real statesman .
commented 2015-09-18 00:03:12 -0400
From The University Of Calgary:

12 expert panelists score debate in 3 categories:

8/12 give Mulcair nod for Leadership and Substance.

7/12 rate Trudeau ahead for most Passion and Emotion, with a little bit of hysteria thrown in.

9/12 give Stephen Harper the biggest nod for Best Hair and Make-up.

12 of 12 give Stephen Harper grand prize for being the only candidate to have already created 6 deficits in a row, 2 recessions, largest debt in Canada’s history, and poorest job growth since horses and buggies were more numerous than automobiles.
commented 2015-09-17 23:57:39 -0400
Judging by the CPAC comments, PMSH was the clear winner, followed by young Trudeau followed by Tom M
commented 2015-09-17 23:53:57 -0400
Yes Dave Bainard, I agree Harper should have questioned Mulcair about the Manifesto and the moderator also should have brought it up. But then it’s G&M.
commented 2015-09-17 23:48:20 -0400
Nice catch Linda, the family parasitism is something I missed. PMSH missed a good chance to explain how EI and CPP are taxes, there’s no bank account or vault of money accumulated – it’s all spent.
commented 2015-09-17 23:44:28 -0400
Poor format. Would have appreciated an intro commentary or final summary by each debater, and not well moderated — needed more control over interruptions and speaking over each other. Interesting to learn that the Mulcair family consists of career public servants (taxpayer paid, high-end pensions), just as Jack Layton and Olivia were career public servants who also lived in taxpayer subsidized housing; just as Rachel Notley and spouse — also careers paid from the taxpayer purse.
commented 2015-09-17 23:29:16 -0400
Biggest loser: G&M. Poorly moderated, lots of talking over.
Loudest / rudest: Justin Trudeau
Probable winner: Mulclair. Those who don’t pay attention to news won’t realize the PMSH was right about the effect of electing the NDP on the provincial economies of BC, Ont, and AB. It was funny that Mulclair had to go back to the 30’s and 40’s to find an NDPer / CCFer with a solid economic record.
Quietist/ easiest to under-estimate: PMSH. The strongest on the economy, he didn’t hit back on a couple of key items. For example, IMHO the green economy should have been linked to the job losses in manufacturing: raise the cost of doing business, and businesses will fail. No response to Trudeau’s bleats about “worst economic growth record in 80 years”. Calm and unflappable to those of us who like him, he could come across as shy or too quiet to be an effective leader.

Those who don’t watch a lot of news will like discount Trudeau in favour of Mulclair.
commented 2015-09-17 23:24:31 -0400
I found it most interesting that the scrum at the end of the debate did not include our PM.
commented 2015-09-17 23:12:35 -0400
commented 2015-09-17 23:12:02 -0400
Actually the ndp budget was based on $65 /brl
When asked 2 questions about it he deflected on both.
I want a reportor to call this guy out as in…. YOU’RE LYING EVERY TIME YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH
commented 2015-09-17 23:09:15 -0400
Keith said, “Just watched the Debate on CPAC. When it was all over, they had a call in vote on who won the Debate. Harper came out the clear winner.”

CPAC has always had a group there that have level heads and can evaluate things like this without bias. I watch CPAC a fair bit.