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Coalition government: a good idea

If economic liberty has a future in this country after this economic crisis, the coalition has to take over. Besides, the coalition cannot be much worse than Harper's Conservatives.

Pierre Lemieux - December 8, 2008

As much as I approved of the Conservative proposals that precipitated the formation of the opposition coalition, I am not moved by the cries of some of my friends to keep this government in power.

Either there is some realistic hope that the Conservatives can progress towards restoring our liberties, or there is not. If there is, then the coalition government is not a bad idea. The reason is simple. There is no way the Conservatives could be re-elected in a few years after the country has been wrecked by the economic crisis. A majority Liberal government would be brought to power and undo anything good the Conservatives might have done as well as make sure to keep everything else bad.

If, on the other hand, there is no hope with the Conservatives, then why should we care if the coalition takes over?

The actions for which the Conservatives may be ousted were laudable, though not radical. Cutting part of the subsidies to political parties is a very good idea, but (as Gerry Nicholls argued) why did they not also propose to abolish the gag laws at the same time? Trying to dampen the increase in government expenditures and public sector wages is also commendable, although less credible after the orgy of expenditures of the last three years. Why did they not propose other bold moves to begin restoring our liberties or, at least, signal their intention to do so? Why did they not at least talk about liberty?

The triggering Economic and Fiscal Statement of November 27 is disappointing. The government’s apparent restraint towards intervening in the financial crisis looks refreshing but, as the Statement warns, “[s]pending will continue to increase” (p. 53). Government spokesmen have suggested that the upcoming January budget will be an orgy of economic interventions. The danger is even more pressing now that the Conservatives are running scared.

The Statement once again pushes the project of a monopolistic securities regulator under the excuse of the financial crisis. As a Liberty in Canada poster suggests, it should be called the “Homeland Security Agency”. Interestingly, the American economy, which is subject to the mother of all securities regulators (the SEC), generated a financial crisis that the Canadian economy is better resisting. So, we need a monopolistic securities regulator because we have been well served by not having one. Such is the logic of growing state power.

The Statement also proposes to legislate disturbing new emergency economic powers which would allow the government to nationalize banks in times of financial crisis — something without which, once again, we have successfully managed.

Why does the government of Canada want to imitate the indecent powers of the American federal government? Don’t the Conservatives realize that these powers will also be used by governments more socialist than they? And, anyway, why should we trust the Conservative government with even more power than it already has?

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