Could Obama have done better? He could learn from Canada’s success

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Here’s an editorial from Investors Business Daily.


Away from the low growth and high regulation of an America under Washington’s thumb, our northern neighbor is economically strong. As 2011 ends, Canada has announced yet another tax cut — and will soar even more.

The Obama administration and its economic czars have flailed about for years, baffled about how to get the U.S. economy growing.

In reality, the president need look no further than our neighbor, Canada, whose solid growth is the product of tax cuts, fiscal discipline, free trade, and energy development. That’s made Canada a roaring puma nation, while its supposedly more powerful southern neighbor stands on the outside looking in.

On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he will slash corporate taxes again on Jan. 1 in the final stage of his Economic Action Plan, dropping the federal business tax burden to just 15%.

Along with fresh tax cuts in provinces such as Alberta, total taxes for businesses in Canada will drop to 25%, one of the lowest in the G7, and below the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development average.

“Creating jobs and growth is our top priority,” said Minister Jim Flaherty. “Through our government low-tax plan … we are continuing to send the message that Canada is open for business and the best place to invest.”

It’s not just that Canada’s conservative government favors makers over takers. Harper’s also wildly popular for shrinking government. “The Harper government has pursued a strategic objective to disembed the federal state from the lives of citizens,” wrote University of Calgary Professor Barry Cooper, in the Calgary Herald.

Harper also has made signing free trade treaties his priority. Canada now has 11 free trade pacts in force, and 14 under active negotiation — including pacts with the European Union and India, among others.

“We believe in free trade in Canada, we’re a free-trading nation. That’s the source of our strength, our quality of life, our economic strength,” Flaherty said last month.

Lastly, Canada has pursued its competitive advantage — oil. And it did so not through top-down “industrial policy,” but by getting government out of the way.

Harper has enacted market-friendly regulations to accomplish big things like the Keystone Pipeline — and urged President Obama to move forward on it or else Canada would sell its oil to China.

These policies have been well-known since the Reagan era. But in a country that’s been institutionally socialist since the 1950s, Harper’s moves represent a dramatic affirmation for free market economics.

For Canada, they’ve had big benefits.

Canada’s incomes are rising, its unemployment is two percentage points below the U.S. rate, its currency is strengthening and it boasts Triple-A or equivalent sovereign ratings across the board from the five top international ratings agencies, lowering its cost of credit.

Is it too much to ask Washington to start paying attention to the Canadian success story?

These sound principles work every time they are tried, and they have led to a transformation in Canada.

Although this article doesn’t mention it, Stephen Harper is also the most solid statesman on foreign policy issues as well.

And here’s a view from up north from Canadian journalist Brian Lilley.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper has put out his own list of accomplishments for the year that just ended but here are a few of the key conservative minded actions that spring to mind for me.

  • Ending political welfare. The per-vote subsidy that made political parties lazy and unresponsive to the voters of this country and insulated them from angering their core supporters will be gone by 2015-2016. Legislation ending the subsidy has already passed but the parties are slowly being weaned off the money and will get smaller amounts each year until the subsidy is gone.
  • They saw the light of common sense and released the names of those on their wanted list of suspected foreign war criminals. These were people that officials admitted should not be in the country, had been ordered out but that were still in Canada. At first officials would only admit there was a list of suspected war criminals but not say who they were. After much pressure, common sense won the day.
  • Ending the insane rules that would see farmers from certain provinces jailed for daring to sell their wheat to the customer of their choice. The Canadian Wheat Board still exists for those that want to use its centralized system. For those that want freedom, they now have that choice.
  • While much attention has been paid to Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, the government has passed C-2 (the mega-trials bill), this bill will make it easier to conduct the mega-trials now associated with organized crime without infringing on the right to a fair trial.
  • While the bill to end the gun registry has not been passed yet, it has been introduced and will pass early this year.
  • Immigration. On this file the Conservatives continue to push for ever higher numbers of newcomers while keeping those skeptical of high immigration onside by cracking down on fraud, cleaning up the system and putting Canada first.

Another thought for those, often myself included, that like to say this government is not conservative enough.

Lilley also notes that electing Harper presented a national day care program (which punishes families with stay-at-home), increasing unemployment benefits (which encourages people not to work), etc.


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