By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 0 Comments
The Globe consults academics who suggest party discipline is stricter in Canada than almost anywhere else.
“There may be some exceptions in those African dictatorships that are part of the Commonwealth and so on,” says Leslie Seidle, a research director with the Institute for Research on Public Policy, “but in the advanced parliamentary democracies, there is nowhere that has heavier, tighter party discipline than the Canadian House of Commons. People are kicked out of their party temporarily for what are really very minor matters.”
Richard Simeon, a professor emeritus of political science and law at the University of Toronto and a member of the university’s School of Public Policy and Governance, agrees. “We are worse than the Australians, and much worse than the British, in terms of giving MPs the ability to act and to somehow make a difference,” said Dr. Simeon.
The Globe also notes a recent intervention of the Speaker in New Zealand.
During a recent debate in that country’s legislature, Prime Minister John Key was asked by an opposition leader to explain why he had said the filming of the movie The Hobbit would create 3,000 jobs. When Mr. Key asserted that the film had increased tourism, the opposition leader objected and the Speaker stopped the Prime Minister from going further. “I appreciate the member’s concern,” he said. “He asked a question, but he did not ask for that information.” That’s a far cry from Canada, where responses from the government go unchecked even though they often have little bearing on what was asked.
I suggested something similar a week ago: the Speaker should have the authority to cut off a response that strays off topic. Here, for another example, is the Speaker in Britain both cutting off and admonishing Prime Minister David Cameron during a session of Prime Minister’s Question in June 2011.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 9, 2012 at 9:33 AM - 0 Comments
Diane Finley is moving forward with the Harper government’s plans for “social finance.”
Ottawa is making a bold push to have business play a bigger role in funding government social programs – asking Canada’s corporate and charities sector to submit ideas that could ultimately form part of the 2013 budget.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail on Thursday, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said interest in the emerging field of social finance is “very high,” pointing to multimillion-dollar investments from the Royal Bank. “We need to make sure that we’re not only not getting in the way, but we’re helping them advance their efforts to improve the outcomes in things like homelessness and literacy and other community challenges,” Ms. Finley said.
The prepared text of Ms. Finley’s speech is here. The plan is reminiscent of David Cameron’s Big Society, which has been met with mixed reviews. The Star looks at some of the criticisms of Ms. Finley’s plan. The NDP was unimpressed during QP yesterday.
By Leah McLaren - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
David Cameron’s blue-blooded cronies are acting up
One rule for them, another for everyone else.
This is the line Britain’s Conservative-led government has long been accused by the opposition of taking—and a reputation highlighted to cringeworthy effect last week. In the latest skirmish in Britain’s long-raging and increasingly comical class war, chief whip Andrew Mitchell was forced to resign over allegations he called a police officer a “pleb” within minutes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne becoming embroiled in a minor, class-related debacle of his own.
The fact that the Tories are a party dominated by a small coterie of privileged men with aristocratic roots—“posh boys who don’t know the price of milk,” as one more humbly born Tory MP famously quipped—has long dogged Prime Minister David Cameron. He is, and always has been, exceptionally posh. A descendant of King William IV, Cameron surrounds himself with similarly blue-blooded cronies. His chancellor is heir to a baronetcy. Both have private fortunes and were members (along with Boris Johnson, another Old Etonian) of the exclusive Bullingdon Club while at Oxford.
None of this is news, but public irritation at the Tory’s social insularity is mounting. Britons are exceptionally touchy about class and even a whiff of snobbishness from an overlord is apt to set off a media firestorm. Earlier this year a kerfuffle ensued when it emerged Osborne could not remember when he’d last eaten a Cornish pasty—the working man’s snack on which the Tories had just placed a 20 per cent tax. This week the chancellor set off a similar row when, on a train journey from Cheshire to London, he sat in first class on a standard class ticket. (His aide paid the upgrade, but the damage was done in the Twittersphere and a gleeful press pack met him on the platform at Euston.)
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 10:51 AM - 0 Comments
Two years in, relations between Britain’s coalition partners Cameron and Clegg hit an all-time low
They seemed so smitten with each other, standing side by side in the 10 Downing Street rose garden, so full of innocence and hope. David Cameron and Nick Clegg, leaders of Britain’s Conservatives and Liberal Democrats respectively, were forming a coalition government and were appearing together to announce it to the press. If there was any lingering bad blood—David Cameron was reminded of the time he had said his favourite joke was Nick Clegg—they laughed it off. They were united, said Cameron, by a desire to provide Britain with stable leadership. Added Clegg: “This is a government that will last.”
That was a little more than two years ago. The stability of their coalition today, however, looks far from certain. A chance for power can motivate opposing parties to put their differences aside. Watching that power slip away has a more divisive effect. Opinion polls since May show the opposition Labour Party with a consistent 10-point lead over the Conservatives. Support for the Liberal Democrats fell off a cliff shortly after the last election and has stayed there pretty much ever since.
Members of both parties worry that the coalition involves too much compromise. Left-leaning Liberal Democrats feel their party has sold out, notably by raising university tuition fees, despite an election promise to scrap them altogether. “There is a real sense of betrayal,” says Judi Atkins, a research fellow at the University of Leeds. Some Tories similarly believe Cameron panders too much to his Liberal Democrat partners.
By Ken MacQueen - Friday, July 27, 2012 at 8:44 AM - 0 Comments
So, finally, it’s the opening morning of the XXX Summer Games. (Warning: don’t type that into your search engine)
It’s the morning of the opening ceremonies of the London 2012 Summer Games and, ho-boy, I’ve seen this movie before. There’s a national biorhythm—an emotional arc de triomphe, if you will—that plays out during the span of every Olympics I’ve attended. I saw it in Calgary in 1988 and in Vancouver in 2010 and in a bunch of other Olympics in between.
It begins on the high of winning the Olympic bid, then it peaks and troughs many times over the long years of preparation. The successes, as the winning city basks in international limelight, are soon worn down by doubts, fears, cost concerns, internal bickering and impatience with a process that takes so bloody long that it seems the whole country is in the back seat of the family Buick screaming “Are we there yet?”
And then we are.
So, finally, it’s the opening morning of the XXX Summer Games. (A word of warning: don’t type that into your search engine because we’re talking Roman Numerals here and not the sort of, um, unsanctioned activities that a Google search will turn up.) But I digress.
What the Brits have been experiencing is an amped-up version of the anxiety that any good host feels in the moments before a pile of guests arrive at your home for an elaborate dinner party. You cast your eyes about the house and realize that, whoa! you really should have shampooed the rug, and the canapés got a bit singed, you neglected to ask if anyone has food allergies and, oh, my, whatever are we going to talk about with all these strange people?
Today, a read of the morning papers reveals the inevitable next phase. The door has been thrown open, you’ve shoved drinks at the guests and, by God, we just might pull this off! As the Guardian said in its lead editorial today: “London has a smile on its face and the country seems to have a sense that the next 17 days may actually be pretty wonderful.”
Or as The Times opined: “As the Games begin, we must remember that it is not only the athletes who have the attention of the world. All of Britain does. With the perfect combination of humility and pride, we should bask in it.” And, finally, the Daily Telegraph: “The Games of the XXX Olympiad, to give them their official title, promise to be one of the greatest spectacles this country has seen, to be remembered, we hope, for all the right sporting reasons.”
If anyone should know how this arc of angst goes, it’s Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency and the savior of the scandal-plagued 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. And yet he put his foot in it while visiting London, expressing to NBC anchor Brian Williams that he found the security cock-ups and the threats of labour unrest “disconcerting.” He wondered if the country will come together and celebrate. “That’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.”
Well, the newspapers here are aflame. Never mind that their scribes shouted the same doubts from their bully pulpits only yesterday. That a foreigner said more or less the same things, expressed in the mildest possible terms, is interpreted here as a major diplomatic blunder. “’Nowhere man’ Romney loses his way with gaffe about the Games,” quoth the Times.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, quick to read the welcome switch in national mood, fired back at Romney. “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”
Ouch, take that, Utah!
Oh yes, the Games have begun.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, July 13, 2012 at 1:51 PM - 0 Comments
If 100 Tory MPs get their way, a referendum will leave it to the public to decide.
Britain’s heart has never really been in its marriage to the European Union. Public buildings in small towns don’t fly the European Union flag alongside the Union Jack. Prime Minister David Cameron doesn’t often flank himself with the banner at press conferences. And of those Britons who could rouse themselves to vote in the last European Parliament election—and most didn’t—more than 20 per cent chose parties that want Britain out of the union.
This isn’t to say Britons despise the Continent. Tens of thousands work and study there. Others have vacation homes in France and Spain, or go often enough not to bother converting their euros back to pounds when they get home. They know they’ll be back. But in no other country in the union does the expression “going to Europe” mean quite the same thing. Britons visit Europe; Germans are already there.
So when it comes to the EU, even the most enthusiastically Europhilic Britons must make arguments for its merits soberly and pragmatically. Passionate appeals to European solidarity don’t wash. But with large chunks of the eurozone—made up of those countries sharing a common currency—in financial disarray, the merits of continued membership are not so obvious. In the U.K., public opinion is “hostile” to the union, says Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, a pro-EU think tank in London. Its leaders, he says, “appear to be incompetent people who aren’t capable of solving its problems.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 9:48 AM - 0 Comments
In Britain, the coalition government’s House of Lords reform bill appears doomed after 91 Conservative MPs defied the party whip to vote against it. The presence of the dissenting Tories also forced David Cameron to withdraw a motion that would have set a limit on debate of the bill.
The coalition is now entering one of its most difficult phases as Tory MPs question the prime minister’s authority. A central tactic by Downing Street – to delay a ministerial reshuffle to persuade aspiring MPs to support the government – backfired as loyalists joined the rebels who numbered close to 100. “There was strength in numbers,” one senior MP said. “But they were brave.”
By Leah McLaren - Monday, June 25, 2012 at 8:10 AM - 0 Comments
Cameron’s laid-back style is suddenly working against him
A new biography of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has caused a storm of media derision with its portrait of a world leader who deserves, according to one unnamed source, “an Olympic gold medal for chillaxing.” What is “chillaxing” for the head honcho of British politics? Well, according to Francis Elliot and James Hanning’s Cameron: Practically a Conservative, it boils down to an ability to entirely switch off on the weekends. When unwinding at his official country abode, Chequers, the PM enjoys dabbling in the vegetable patch, playing with the kids, watching “a crap film on telly,” hitting balls on the tennis court against a machine called “The Clegger”—named after his deputy PM and tennis partner Nick Clegg—having three or four glasses of wine with lunch and a long afternoon nap.
The perception of Cameron as a relaxed and affable family man who relishes his leisure time is, in fact, one that was carefully cultivated and promoted from the moment he took over as leader of the opposition against the legendarily morose and workaholic Gordon Brown. Since then, Cameron has dutifully kept up the image. In addition to being photographed walking in the country with his family, a Baby Bjorn strapped to his chest, he has defended the practice of date nights with his wife, admitted his addiction to the app Angry Birds and is generally known for being a gregarious, even-tempered sort of bloke who, as we found out from his recent testimony at the Leveson inquiry on press standards, rather enjoys connecting with old friends—even, perhaps especially, rich and powerful ones who are members of the so-called “Chipping Norton” country set.
For a while the strategy worked—voters seemed to connect to Cameron on a human level, something Brown could never quite achieve. But as the PM himself surely knows by now, politics is a fickle game and the very quality that might help get a leader elected in the first place can just as quickly become his greatest political liability (think of Barack Obama’s legendary calm recast as aloofness or Stephen Harper’s control over cabinet translated into inflexibility). In Cameron’s case, his political weakness seems to be his ability, tasked with an extraordinary job, to simply relax and enjoy his life in an ordinary way.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 30, 2012 at 12:38 PM - 0 Comments
David Cameron is to be required to make an urgent Commons statement about the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, a development that will infuriate No 10 and strengthen its suspicion of the Speaker, John Bercow. David Cameron will cut short an election tour to make the Commons statement on Monday afternoon, amid pressure on Hunt over his handling of News Corp’s bid to take full control of BSkyB.
So Mr. Cameron is made to go to the House of Commons and spends 50 minutes explaining himself, taking questions from 42 backbenchers in the process.
Our Mr. Harper doesn’t generally come to the House on Mondays. If he attends Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, he might face somewhere between 18 and 24 questions per week in total from the NDP and Liberal leaders.
During a regular session of Prime Minister’s Questions last year, Speaker Bercow twice cut off Mr. Cameron when he felt the Prime Minister’s answers had gone on long enough.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 11:04 AM - 0 Comments
If it comes down to personality, Boris Johnson has Ken Livingstone beat
During the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, London Mayor Boris Johnson stood somewhere off-camera and prepared for his moment in the spotlight, when the Olympic flag would be thrust in his hands to be waved in front of some 90,000 people in the stadium, and another 1.5 billion watching on televisions around the world.
Before he could stride into view, two Chinese officials jabbed their fingers at his ample stomach and told him to button up his jacket.
“I instinctively reached for my middle button, and then thought, sod it,” he later recalled. “I was going to do it my way, and on the matter of jacket buttons I was going to follow a policy of openness, transparency and individual freedom.”
So “Boris” (nobody refers to him by his family name) appeared before a quarter of the world’s population as he usually does: looking like an overgrown schoolboy who hasn’t quite got the hang of wearing his uniform. Some Chinese media were offended, but he seemed relaxed and exuberant, a little like London itself.
By Leah McLaren - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 12:15 PM - 0 Comments
From a controversial budget to class-related gaffes, It’s been a tough spring for the British PM
T.S. Eliot said April is the cruellest month, but David Cameron might want to add March to the list too.
The British prime minister’s spring from hell began late last month. First there was the unveiling of a controversial budget in which the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, cut the top rate of income tax, the corporate tax level, as well as the child benefit for upper-middle-class families and tax breaks for pensioners—a sort of take-from-the-young-and-old-and-give-to-the-rich kind of budget that did little to dispel the Tories’ reputation as Britain’s ruling-class party.
But the real heat began the following weekend, when the Sunday Times, in an old-fashioned undercover sting, recorded party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas crudely boasting to a prospective donor that one could obtain “premier league” access to the PM over dinner in his private apartment at Downing Street in exchange for a donation of $320,000 to $400,000. The billionaire fundraiser promptly resigned and Cameron tried to smooth the whole thing over (first by refusing to release details of whom he’d recently invited to dinner, and later capitulating), but it was too late. After that the class-related gaffes rained down on a starving, gleeful media.
By Leah McLaren - Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 2:02 AM - 0 Comments
A third of Scots back the upcoming referendum on independence. The majority want devolution.
On a bright Monday morning, the debating chamber of the Scottish parliament building at Holyrood is bathed in honey-coloured light, a modernist ship in calm seas—especially today, when parliament is not in session. A triumph of contemporary design, it also represents the greatest Scottish building fiasco in modern history. Three years late and more than 10 times over budget, the parliament building is a touchy subject among Scots (there was a major public inquiry into the mishandling of the project), and many of the politicians and journalists who work here find it difficult to admire as a result. As Colin Mackay, the affable (on air) political reporter for Scotland’s Radio Forth, explains during my tour, most people here in Holyrood “are just now starting to warm to the place.”
The building might be a sore point but most Scots are proud of its purpose. It houses a free-standing parliament—one that’s now dominated by the Scottish National Party’s government, and run by a popular and charismatic leader, Alex Salmond, who is determined to lead his country to independence with a referendum in 2014.
Mackay remembers his parents campaigning for devolution in the run-up to the last (unsuccessful) referendum in 1979, and has keenly watched the evolution of an increasingly independent Scotland ever since. Like many of his countrymen, he seems to have little sentimental attachment to the United Kingdom. “English social democrats mainly seem to want to keep Scotland for the Labour votes,” he tells me. (Scotland has only one Conservative MP in Westminster, compared to 41 Labour.) Mackay explains the gradualist approach to independence. “You just go incrementally, step by little step, until you get there and no one’s actually noticed.” He ushers me through a corridor lined with flagstone, granite and glass, and pauses to gaze out at a neglected courtyard that offers the building’s least spectacular view: a scraggy sapling growing forlorn in the mud. “That’s the tree the Queen planted when she came up to open parliament. It looks a bit like a republican plot.” He says this with a chuckle, but fails to add the obvious: it isn’t dead yet.
Early last May, the SNP achieved what many believed was an impossible victory: an overwhelming majority. It left all of Britain—including Scotland itself—pretty much flabbergasted. Simon Pia, a former strategist who helped run the opposing campaign for the Scottish Labour Party’s then-leader Iain Gray, told me over coffee on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile that he made the initial 5 a.m. call to Salmond so Gray could officially concede defeat. “Salmond was just as surprised by his victory as everybody else,” Pia recalls. The upshot, in his view, is that Salmond is now scrambling to maintain his party’s political credibility in the lead-up to a referendum the SNP always maintained it wanted, but did not expect to be held any time soon. “Salmond’s a strong leader and he’s great with the media, but if you ask me, the emperor has no clothes,” Pia says. “They ran a great campaign but ultimately it was an emotional appeal, independence was barely on the agenda—what they won on was not a plan for independence, it was a marketing ploy.”
By Colby Cosh - Friday, February 17, 2012 at 3:58 AM - 0 Comments
Argentina, the world press tells us, intends to rename its top soccer league the “Cruiser General Belgrano First Division”, in honour of the Argentine ship sunk by the Royal Navy during the 1982 Falklands War. Far be it from any outsider to prescribe how a country honours its war dead, but honour is not what the move is about: it’s part of a continuing, exhausting barrage of Falklands agitprop from Argentina’s Kirchner government. Kirchner is scrambling to keep Argentine economic growth rolling, barracking businesses and workers in the classic caudillo manner as inflation outpaces the dubious official statistics. She has tried, with some success, to close off Southern Hemisphere ports to boats flying the maritime flag of the Falklands and to weld traditionally UK-friendly neighbours into a regional bloc against “colonialism”. Tensions are high and the Falkland Islanders are feeling besieged. Continue…
By Leah McLaren - Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
London’s eccentric mayor may yet challenge Cameron for the Tory leadership
Earlier this month, when British Prime Minister David Cameron used his veto against changing the European Union’s legal framework treaty to help ailing eurozone nations, the hardline Eurosceptic contingent of his party rejoiced. But it was the reaction of Boris Johnson, mayor of London and one of the most vocal Tory critics of European integration, that garnered the most national attention.
In a BBC radio interview, Johnson approvingly declared the prime minister had “played a blinder”—skilfully performed a move—in refusing to join the treaty. Secretly, however, one can’t help but suspect that Johnson, who is also a popular columnist with the Telegraph and the former MP for Henley, was ever so slightly put out. It’s not that the mayor privately disagrees with Cameron’s stubborn isolationist stance (far from it). But by using Britain’s veto, the PM has effectively pushed Johnson’s own much-speculated-on leadership ambitions to the back burner, where they will be forced to languish for the next little while (but not, it is safe to assume, forever).
The notion that a shambolic city politician with a long history of infidelities and verbal gaffes could represent the biggest threat to Cameron’s leadership might seem laughable to the outside world—but here in Britain it’s accepted fact. The two men have known each other since their school days—first as boarding students at Eton, where Johnson was a King’s Scholar and Cameron a fee-paying boy from an upper-class family, and later at Oxford, where both became members of the legendarily exclusive (and champagne-soaked) Bullingdon Club. And while in the past Johnson strenuously insisted he has no interest in ascending to the prime minister’s office, his denials are not given much credence at home.
By Leah McLaren - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 8 Comments
Will David Cameron’s new mortgage plan get British renters on the property ladder?
There was a time, not long ago, when middle-class Britons could expect that, with the help of an education and a decent job, they would one day own their own home. Kathleen Taylor, a 37-year-old civil servant, bought her first London property back in 1997, a two-bedroom apartment that cost her just $180,000. Even then, as with many young, first-time buyers, her mother had to underwrite the mortgage and provide part of the down payment (a loan she later paid back). Since then, Taylor has moved house several times, enjoying the security of being on what the British call “the property ladder”—a metaphorical climbing structure long regarded as the path to financial security.
Turns out she was one of the lucky ones. Today, even with low interest rates and moribund house prices, many Britons Taylor’s age and younger have begun to give up hope of ever “getting on the ladder.” An example of how quickly things have changed: Taylor’s 33-year-old younger brother, a freelance sound designer, has, she says, “been completely priced out of the London market,” despite having cobbled together a decent deposit from savings and a recent inheritance. “And that’s assuming he could even get the mortgage.”
On the last point, Britain’s Tory-led government has introduced a program they hope will change things for Britain’s burgeoning “generation rent.” On Nov. 21, Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled a government-backed mortgage scheme that will allow first-time buyers to purchase homes with only five per cent down. (At present, banks insist on minimum deposits of 20 per cent from first-time buyers, which is no small demand. Though house prices have sunk back to 2006 levels, they are still overvalued by at least 25 per cent, according to The Economist.)
By Peter Nowak - Friday, October 14, 2011 at 8:06 AM - 12 Comments
British Prime Minister David Cameron has embarked on a rather humourous endeavour to try and save the United Kingdom from porn. Earlier this week, it was reported that, at Cameron’s behest, the four largest Internet service providers in the UK would begin an opt-in program where they would automatically block porn websites unless customers explicitly said they wanted them.
No sooner did the ink (real or virtual) dry on that story than those same ISPs—BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin—started talking about how the system would have no effect. The opt-in process, it turns out, will apply only to brand new customers, which means very little because only about 5 per cent of people change service providers in a given quarter.
That’s not exactly the best way to say it will have no effect—after all, at that rate it will only take 10 quarters or two-and-a-half years to block the majority of the country from porn. Still, the ISPs’ chafing at the idea is what makes Cameron’s effort humourous because it’s doomed to fail for a host of reasons.
First, there are the freedom of speech issues. The Australian government’s effort to enact a similar ban has hit all kinds of snags, from coalition partners refusing to support it to several big ISPs refusing to play ball, even with something as universally deplorable as child porn. Things have gotten downright silly Down Under, with the banning efforts extending to erotica that features small-breasted women, which supposedly encourages pedophilia. The resulting joke, of course, is that Australians want their porn stars to have big boobs.
Then there are the logistical problems. How, exactly, does something qualify for the banned list?
Banning porn on the Internet is ultimately a fool’s errand. It’s here to stay and, while laws and technology can try to help, in the end its parents’ responsibility to ensure their kids aren’t getting to where they shouldn’t be.
If a country were to successfully ban online porn, however, it’s a safe bet its Internet traffic would nosedive. While accurate numbers are tough to come by, there are some hints that suggest pornography still makes up a good chunk of traffic. Five of the 100 most-visited websites (that are in English) are porn-related, according to Alexa rankings, while Ogi Ogas – author of A Billion Wicked Thoughts – says about 13% of web searches are for erotic content.
Applying this chain of logic to Canada, if Internet providers here really were worried about congestion on their networks, they wouldn’t be enacting usage-based billing to try and slow consumption with the likes of Netflix. They’d be trying to get porn banned.
By Leah Mclaren - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 12 Comments
As they watch the debt crisis unfold, hardline Euroskeptics in Britain have never seemed so smug
In his speech to a joint session of Parliament in Ottawa last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron lavished praise on our economic system. After commending Canada for getting “every major decision right” in the past few years of global market turmoil, he lauded the strength of both the Canadian banking system and our economic leaders, who, he said, “got to grips with its deficit” and were “running surpluses and paying down debt before the recession, fixing the roof while the sun was shining.”
Cameron’s admiration for Canada’s relatively peachy fiscal position stands in stark contrast to his dim view of his eurozone neighbours.
The British PM used his northern stopover to trumpet the message both he and his finance minister, George Osborne, have taken up even more loudly than usual as of late: Europe, and the U.S., must get their fiscal houses in order, or face disastrous consequences. “This is not a traditional, cyclical recession, it’s a debt crisis,” Cameron said of the world’s faltering economies. “When the fundamental problem is the level of debt and the fear of those levels, then the usual economic prescriptions cannot be applied.” It’s a statement that begs the obvious question: what now?
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 9:45 AM - 15 Comments
“The misplaced belief that the road to economic prosperity is paved by near-term fiscal tightening, as espoused by our own Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Prime Minister David Cameron last week, shows we have learned nothing from Herbert Hoover’s response to the Great Depression,” Ms. Cooper said.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 26, 2011 at 9:46 AM - 4 Comments
Douglas Porter quibbles with the Prime Minister’s prescription for economic woe.
“We could be making some of the same mistakes. Certainly, there are echoes of 1937,” agreed Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at the Bank of Montreal. Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Prime Minister formed an unusual alliance of debt hawks, coming down firmly on the side of stricter austerity as the way out of the crisis – at least in Europe …
Mr. Porter said Mr. Harper’s call for global austerity is “precisely the wrong medicine at this time.” Government bond yields in Canada, and in most other countries, have sunk to multi-year lows in recent days. That’s a sign that financial markets are stressed about economic growth prospects, not government deficits or inflation, according to Mr. Porter. “Governments shouldn’t be aggressively cutting spending when the economy is gasping for air,” he said. “That’s certainly the wrong prescription.”
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 23, 2011 at 12:39 PM - 1 Comment
British PM discusses economy during Ottawa visit
British Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting Ottawa on Thursday, joined his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper in calling for “decisive” action on curbing the European debt crisis. Cameron was in Ottawa for a brief bilateral visit, meeting in private with Harper before addressing the House of Commons. In his speech, he emphasized that he would never support Britain’s entry into the eurozone—the area made up of European countries using the euro—but that his country has a vital interest in that region’s economic stability. “The problems in the eurozone are now so big that they have begun to threaten the stability of the world economy,” he said. Both Harper and Cameron joined other world leaders in signing an open letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will chair the upcoming G20 meeting in Cannes. The letter expresses the perceived urgency in reinstating investor confidence in global markets and curbing public debt in many countries.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:56 PM - 8 Comments
The invitation had been “dangling” for months but, British sources say, plans for British Prime Minister David Cameron’s first bilateral visit to Canada — and the first by a British prime minister since Tony Blair in 2001 — only got under way two weeks ago.
It was then something of a scramble to prepare statements and speeches. Quoting Churchill is always a reliable crowd pleaser on these occasions, and both sides were soon eyeing the great wartime leader’s “Some chicken! Some neck!” speech delivered in the House of Commons in December 1941. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 6:04 PM - 7 Comments
The prepared text of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech to Parliament this evening.
Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker of the Senate, Mr Prime Minister, Hon Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Commons…
Je vous remercie du grand honneur que vous me faites en m’invitant a m’exprimer devant ce parlement historique.
I want to begin, in this place, by paying tribute to Jack Layton and I offer sincere condolences to Olivia and his family. His energy and optimism were above politics, and I know he will be missed by all those who serve here.
One of the things I am finding about this job is that whichever countries I visit, members of the Royal family have got there first.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 11:33 AM - 0 Comments
Will meet with PM Harper before addressing House of Commons
British Prime Minister David Cameron is making his first solo visit to Canada Thursday, when he will be flying to Ottawa after making a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York. Cameron will meet privately with Prime Minister Stephen Harper before addressing the House of Commons, a regular occurrence for the leaders of countries with close relations to Canada. Cameron was in Toronto last year to participate in the G20 Summit. It is expected that the two prime ministers will discuss issues such as the flagging European economy and the ongoing NATO mission in Libya.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 12:08 PM - 4 Comments
After consulting with the Twitter hive mind, it seems the most comparable precedent for what Brian Topp would be trying to do is Brian Mulroney. Mr. Mulroney worked within the Progressive Conservative party before becoming leader. He, though, only won the leadership on his second try and that, along with his public profile in general, makes the comparison to Mr. Topp imperfect.
Messrs Harper, Miliband and Cameron were party strategists, but each won election as an MP before seeking their respective party leaderships. Mr. Tory was a strategist for the Progressive Conservative before he was elected leader of the Ontario PCs, but there was an unsuccessful run for mayor in Toronto in between.
By Leah McLaren - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 10:45 AM - 3 Comments
The British PM is promising to fix his country’s ‘broken society’—and Britons are listening
Last week, at a youth centre in the village of Witney, Oxfordshire, British Prime Minister David Cameron stood in front of a wall of messy graffiti and pledged to put his country’s “broken society” back to the top of his political agenda. It must have been a vindicating moment for a leader who has been roundly mocked, at times excoriated, for his long-held insistence that British youth are suffering from a moral malaise that would best be cured, not by increased social spending, but a bracing dose of good old-fashioned community involvement. Picking up litter in a local park, perhaps, followed by a vigorous round of neighbourhood pickup soccer.
In fact, in the wake of the recent riots that have shocked Britain, these were just some of the solutions Cameron was laying out in Oxfordshire that Monday, to an anxiously receptive public. It is all part of his planned “national citizen service,” a kind of voluntary-sector answer to Britain’s formerly mandatory military service—which, in the aftermath of the violence, there was some outlandish talk of reinstating. Paired with his carefully scripted tough talk of social and security “fight-back” and a major crackdown on gang crime, Cameron’s obsession with civic engagement, which seemed hopelessly quaint just weeks ago, is starting to look altogether more prescient. Indeed, his much-scoffed-at idea of a Big Society—the Tories’ flagship platform that, among other things, emphasizes smaller government, a bigger voluntary sector and devolution of power from Whitehall to councils—has never seemed more relevant.
After several days of making conciliatory noises, opposition Labour Leader Ed Miliband was back on the attack last week, trying to take hold of the crisis for himself. He mocked the Prime Minister in front of an audience at his alma mater, a public high school in north London, not far from where the riots began. Dismissing as “gimmicks” Cameron’s threats to harass gang leaders in their homes and adopt an American-style “zero tolerance” approach to policing, Miliband tried to paint the new “tough on crime” Cameron as a hypocrite. “A Prime Minister who used to say we ought to ‘hug a hoodie’ now says we ought to reform health and safety laws!” Miliband groused, referring to Cameron’s famous 2006 speech in which he urged an audience, “when you see a child walking down the road, hoodie up, head down, moody, swaggering, dominating the pavement—think what has brought that child to that moment.”