One of my favourite quotes is from Ann Frank who said: "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart." Fortunately, she never met our current political leadership. It is difficult to find any good in the heart of our federal political system as our country's leaders do their level best to drive our country further into recession.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/12/2008 (4746 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

One of my favourite quotes is from Ann Frank who said: "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart." Fortunately, she never met our current political leadership. It is difficult to find any good in the heart of our federal political system as our country's leaders do their level best to drive our country further into recession.

Timing is everything and now is not the time for political gamesmanship. During any crisis there are critical moments in which decisions will dramatically alter outcomes. The decisions made at this moment in time will have a dramatic effect on our economy, good or bad.

This current period is defined by consumers and businesses making important decisions that will collectively determine how our country will weather the global economic storm. Now is the time for our leaders to be heard.

The country is starved for voices that will instill confidence that in turn will drive investment. It is time for those that were given the gift of power to check their egos at the door and reach for those things that can bring the parties together and collectively define a course that will ensure Canada will be well positioned once the dark economic clouds lift.

Even though output has been contracting since August 2008, we still have seen hopeful signs as domestic banking and housing sectors are in relatively good shape.

We have not seen the same kinds of bailout pressures as we have seen in the United States. And as a result of solid fiscal management, particularly debt reduction, we are well positioned to weather the storm.

Due to these factors there was a quiet confidence in the business community. And despite pockets of economic struggle, it was felt we would come out of the downturn with minimal job loss. All it would take is a well timed stimulus package and a government that will have the ability to react, when needed, to address the impending economic turmoil. Stability will be the life blood of any government that plans on managing this crisis in the best interests of its citizens. Collaborative leadership is the strategy to protect Canadian families.

Instead we have a government that delivered an economic statement that was more about delivering a "poke in the eye" to the other parties as opposed to instilling confidence in the national economy. Just when the country was looking for leadership the opposition parties instilled even greater uncertainty by threatening to bring down the government and form a coalition with no clear mandate and dysfunctional inter-party relationships.

Petty party politics at its worst. In normal times it would be embarrassing. During this unprecedented economic crisis it is tantamount to treason. What could have been Canada's finest hour is an international disgrace.

The next steps are very clear. It is time for our political leaders to come together and put a stop to the madness. It is not too late for each party leader to put aside their difference and work towards an all-party approach to dealing with the current economic crisis.

They should first work together quickly to develop a modest stimulus package that will serve to stimulate growth and yet will contain a clear plan to avoid a return to long term structural deficits.

Now is also the time for extensive consultation with the business community. The Winnipeg Chamber will be launching a member feedback program that will allow us to monitor the current and future state of our local business community.

We will work hand-in-hand with government leaders to ensure that the issues faced by our local businesses across all sectors during this challenging time will be brought forward so that the measures necessary to support the local economy are taken.

The government should identify specific sectors where urgent action may need to be taken and develop criteria for assessing requests for assistance. Any assistance should be timely, targeted, and temporary.

Lastly, the government should work with the Bank of Canada to ensure liquidity and the availability of credit for Canadian business and consumers.

I agree with Roger Gibbons from the Canada West Foundation when he said: "The Governor General's duty is to ensure as best she can that Canada has a government that is capable of governing in the national interest in the circumstances of the time."

I would hope that the leaders from all political parties would recognize this as their duty as well.

 

Dave Angus is president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.