Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

How Ottawa Spends 2010-2011: Recession, Realignment, and the New Deficit Era

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

How Ottawa Spends 2010-2011: Recession, Realignment, and the New Deficit Era

Article excerpt

Politics and Social Sciences G. Bruce Doern and Christopher Stoney (eds), How Ottawa Spends 2010-2011: Recession, Realignment, and the New Deficit Era (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010), 307 pp. Paper. £21.99. ISBN 978-0-7735-3728-6.

The latest volume in the 'How Ottawa Spends' series begins with a highly critical editorial commentary on the minority Conservative Governments led by Stephen Harper. It concentrates on the emergence of a 'double deficit' - one fiscal, the other democratic. The first refers to the unprecedented $56 billion federal budgetary deficit (although less than previous peaks in the 1980s and 1990s as a percentage of GDP). The recession has also been a global phenomenon, but with a relatively less severe impact on the Canadian economy. The democratic shortfall is less easily quantified but attributed directly to Harper. It centres on criticism of the centralisation of executive power in the Prime Minister's Office, and his disdain for the values and institutions of representative democracy, such as proroguing Parliament in 2009.

The 12 chapters are grouped into three broad areas: the macro political-economic context, industrial policy and public management. To take a few examples, the first category starts with an assessment of the Liberal and Conservative minority governments since 2004. It highlights the increased significance of Parliament because the progress of legislation is less certain, but also its diminution with the emergence of a 'dangerous new era of hyper-partisanship' (p. 12), murky deals and rule bending. Other contributors explore how Canada escaped the worst effects of the American subprime mortgage crisis. Key factors include the relative financial prudence (or conservatism) displayed by Canada's banking system, notwithstanding notable failures in the financial regulatory system.

The second set of chapters address policy for industrial recovery. …

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