Blogs & Comment

Weekend reading: Elections, EI and oil

The week is finally ending, but wow, what a week it’s been. The big news was, obviously, Harper and Ignatieff’s agreement to hold off on an election and instead work together on EI reform, infrastructure spending updates and more. We’ll see how that goes, but at least we don’t have to waste a sun tanning day at the polls. (I still think we’d be better off with an electionright now, but without majority prospects for Iggy and with Harper poised to lose I can understand why the two would want to wait.)
Naturally, most of this week’s reading suggestions are election related, but I also threw in a couple interesting articles from the good old U.S. of A.
Why Canada needed an election this summer:Toronto Star columnist Bob Hepburn lists six prescient points on why there should have been an election.

The Economy: Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have completely misunderstood and mismanaged the current recession. Last November they were predicting rosy times and a budget surplus this year of $800 million. Flaherty is now forecasting the deficit at $50 billion, the largest in Canadian history. The Conservatives only began to come to grips with the recession after the three opposition parties almost toppled them in December.

The EI conundrum:Maclean’s blogger Andrew Potter on EI reform.

Whats the difference between using EI to support, say, the maritimes and not Ontario, and using it to prop up forestry but not finance? Even when they dont overlap (the regions tend to be poor because they have sagging rural economies) the error is the same in both cases: an insurance program is being used for a perverse form of economic engineering that gives people an incentive to stay in dying industries.

Love-in on Hill will not last long:Don Martin reveals why Harper and Ignatieff won’t be BFFs for long.

Behind the scenes, you can almost hear the gunning of campaign jet engines as the leaders prepare for a summer of fundraising, photo-oping and candidate recruitment to be ready in case this recession creates the conditions for an opposition takedown.
It will be hard to avoid tripping over your nearest Conservative MP as the gang of 143 fans out across the land armed with shovels and ribbon-cutting scissors, hoping the construction frenzy stimulates better polling numbers for their party.

Obama plan catches corporate flak:The Big Money discusses why Barack Obama’s plan to overhaul the financial system has the private sector and politicians on the defensive.

The New York Timeswrites that senators “signaled an unwillingness to accept the White House recommendations intact, particularly the idea of expanding the powers of the Federal Reserve to enable it to regulate risk across the financial system.” Geithner tried to play down the new Fed powers as “quite modest,” but the senators weren’t buying it. His next stop is the House financial services committee, where another hostile audience awaits.

Oil check:New Yorker’s business guru James Surowiecki has a great piece about rising gas prices and its relationship to inflation.

Many worry that higher prices at the pump could end up choking off the economys putative green shoots before theyve even had a chance to grow. This isnt an idle concern, since recent history demonstrates how damaging skyrocketing oil prices can be.