Friday, October 24, 2008

Voters, Schmoters: How the Real Decisions Are Made

It's been a week and a bit now since a little more than half of us marched into our polling stations to do our duty and cast our ritual vote for our candidate or party of choice.

Yay us.

As sick as some of us might feel about the results, we all somehow manage to convince ourselves that "the people have spoken". That as much as we might disagree with the choices they made, however pathetic the turnout was, however dishonest and manipulative the political advertising campaigns were, however shoddy and superficial the media coverage, the plurality of Canadians who bothered showing up had somehow ferreted out enough information about their candidates and party leaders to make something resembling an informed decision.

Meanwhile, the real decisions about our economy had already been made by Stephen Harper's true constituents:

Politics factored into bank aid deal
Dialogue between Ottawa, Bay St. behind the scenes

… Several of the people involved in the process said that even while pillars of Wall Street were crumbling and world leaders were invoking the spectre of financial armageddon, a central consideration for the Prime Minister’s Office seemed to be Jack Layton and the New Democratic Party.

The Conservatives and key allies on Bay Street feared both the immediate and lasting consequences of giving political adversaries an opening to turn the banking industry and its ties with Ottawa into a matter of public scorn. This concern reached a peak immediately before the election with the meltdown in markets, co-ordinated global interventions and the approach of polling day.

Amid late-night phone calls to the homes of senior officials in Ottawa, a loose strategy emerged to split the federal government’s response into two stages, with a decision to delay until after the election the explicit commitment to insure interbank lending that was finally unveiled yesterday.

But bank executives insisted on a long-sought move to shift mortgages off their books and supply them with cash before the election, because they feared the uncertainty of polling day and the possibility Mr. Flaherty might not return as finance minister, according to participants in the process and observers. This first stage was held back until the last possible moment, the eve of the Thanksgiving weekend, the last day of market trading before polling day, when a $25-billion scheme to aid banks was announced by Mr. Flaherty. “The strategy [was] trying to low-key it, [unveiling it] when people were running away to the cottage to pull the dock out of the water and making their pumpkin pies,” said one person involved in the discussions.

This is what happens when a government is confident that nobody is paying attention. Get ready for more of the same.

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking about the $25B, and don't know enough about it. At 1/10 of the population of the USA, that means we made about a $250B compared to a $700B bailout in the USA? We're about half as bad?