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Quick Hits, Volume LI

I'm not yet convinced that the Conservative platform risks a deficit, but this is one card that Martin can credibly play. We know he was a competent Finance Minister, even if he hasn't been stellar as PM.

It is remarkable to me how far the left has come along on the fiscal prudence bandwagon. I think we have all learned that the government programs which increase our standard of living are only sustainable if the budget is under control. That's easy to see since the right's rationale for cutting programs is frequently budget-related.

Whenever the Liberals would reveal that "oops, the suprlus was much larger than we anticipated", Conservatives would be infuriated. They called it overtaxation and a manipulation. However, I was always very happy to see the debt shrinking. I cheer for surpluses.

Declan put a good article up last night: Good Bye Budget Surplus, We Hardly Knew Ya.

In that article I learned that Andrew Coyne is a heretic!

What the Tories can't say, but I will, is this: even if we do run a small deficit, we do not all turn into pumpkins. The Grits were earlier trying to claim, on the basis of who know's whose numbers, that the Tories would run a "$12-billion deficit." Even if that were true, which I doubt, that's $12-billion over five years, or a little more than $2-billion a year -- they could fund it out of the contingency reserve. And even if they did not, that's $2-billion, on a GDP in excess of $1.4-trillion. That's not even rounding error. It's rounding error on the rounding error.

I don't like deficits any more than the next guy -- less than most -- but let's get real here.

At least Coyne made sense in the same post when he wrote (referring to Tory budget criticisms): "Of course, none of this would have even come up had the Tories not climbed on board with the provinces' phoney 'fiscal imbalance' campaign. Live by the demagoguery, die by the demagoguery."

Paul Martin was campaigning on this issue yesterday at the Vancouver Board of Trade. Apparently they used to have a national debt clock which they have now put into storage. I guess watching the national debt shrink (albeit slowly in absolute terms) was pretty boring to them. I'm a fan, however.

Meanwhile, at that meeting, Dan Muzyka, the chair of the board of trade, criticized Paul Martin over crime issues. The CBC reports:

Quoting Statistics Canada, Muzyka said Canada had a higher violent crime rate than the United States, and asked Martin what his government would do about it.

Which tells me that Dan Muzyka should resign. It ought to be pretty damn embarrasing when your knowledge is less than the average blogger, and you go around challenging the Prime Minister (even this Prime Minister) with debunked falsehoods.

Here's what Statistics Canada actually has to say, when comparing apples to apples.

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