Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: When the People in Charge Fail

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: When the People in Charge Fail

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: When the people in charge fail

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Jan. 17:

The economic and business news today hardly inspires confidence in our elites.

The myth of private-sector acumen exploded with a bang heard across Canada following the abrupt failure of Target Corp., which will vacate 20 million square feet of retail space, leaving thousands of workers unemployed.

And the free fall in oil prices was so unexpected, it's forced the Harper government to postpone its budget, while energy-dependent Alberta contemplates its own failure to prepare for such an event.

Meanwhile, brand-name companies such as Sony Canada, Sears and others are either struggling or closing shop completely.

The private sector says that's business, while governments, well, governments do what they usually do in these circumstances. They hedge, equivocate, express sympathy, consult the people, spend more money, whatever.

We've seen worse. The 2008 global financial crisis was caused by the banking and investment sector, whose flawed practices were enabled by indifferent and wilfully blind governments, particularly in the United States. Some European countries are still dealing with the fallout.

Canada fared relatively well through this crisis because of a properly regulated banking system, but the federal government launched a program of deficit spending to stimulate the economy and stave off an even deeper recession.

Economists, pundits and others warned the Harper government during the last year it should avoid the smorgasbord of tax cuts it has already implemented or promised. Cautious observers believed the government should be building a nest egg, rather than spending its surpluses on politically motivated tax cuts.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper disregarded the advice, not because it was wrong, but because it didn't fit his plan for re-election. …

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