Before you all go getting woodies over the CPoC's suggestion that they can wipe out the federal debt within 15 years, you might want to read the fine print more carefully. On Thursday, we heard this from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (all subsequent emphasis added):
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty hopes to eliminate billions of dollars in net debt within the next 15 years, calling it "a matter of fairness for future generations."
He said the total net debt currently stands at $481 billion.
However, further down in that article, we read the disquieting clarification:
Liberal MP John McCallum accused Flaherty of misleading Canadians by promising to tackle the net debt, calling the proposal "technically true but a gimmick."
"You are using this arcane statistic of net debt, which nobody except a few economists in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) have ever heard of," charged McCallum.
Flaherty's figure of $481 billion includes both federal and provincial government debt, minus assets like the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan.
A CTV news piece the next day went into this in somewhat more detail:
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is defending his plan to wipe out the "net debt" by 2021 against critics who are calling it a gimmick that doesn't add up...
But Liberal MP John McCallum said the net debt is an arcane statistic that "nobody except a few economists in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) have ever heard of."
The net debt is much smaller than the federal debt which stands at $480-billion, said McCallum, a former Royal Bank chief economist.
That second CTV article goes into much more detail, but let's let prominent Canadian right-wing pundit and fashion plate Adam Daifallah explain the sophisticated and bewildering financial technicalities for us:
Another great day for conservatism
The list is starting to get quite long.
No complaints here.
Tune in next week when Adam leads us through the intricacies of PM Stephen Harper's proposal for a constitutionally-sound state of "nationhood" for Quebec: "Whoo hoo!! Does Stephen Harper fucking rock or what!?!?"
BY THE WAY, I'm hoping that you noticed that Flaherty simply lied in that first article:
[Flaherty] said the total net debt currently stands at $481 billion.
That's just crap. The current federal debt is around $480 billion, making the net debt considerably smaller. If you need any proof of the difference, let me predict that what you'll hear from now on is Flaherty making promises to wipe out only the net debt, while promising only to reduce the federal debt.
Need proof? How about this article from today's London Free Press, where you can see for yourself how carefully Flaherty is now choosing his words (emphasis added):
Releasing a fall economic and fiscal update, Flaherty unveiled a 15-year plan to devote $3 billion and all surplus proceeds to pay down the federal debt.
Not "eliminate." Simply "pay down." Flaherty initially tried to bluff his way through this, and he got busted. Just what Canada needs: A federal finance minister that's a lying douchebag. Did anyone seriously expect anything better from this lot?