Diane Francis: Leaders should be forced to take a course on markets, business and free enterprise | Financial Post

0
33

Two fringe candidates — one from the Bloc Québécois and the other from the libertarian People’s Party — littered the English-language debates, sucking up airtime. Neither will ever become prime minister and neither should have been on the stage.

Also, a waste of time were leaders from the Green and New Democrat parties whose platforms are disconnected from economic realities.

The four illustrate that this election cycle in Canada has become the democratic version of tennis without a net. Norms and lines are crossed by granting undeserved attention to loopy fringe candidates. Then there’s the “invisible” incumbent, Justin Trudeau, who has two campaign planes, but dodged the other English-language debate and avoids questions from the press whenever feasible.

The only grown-up in last week’s English language debate was Andrew Scheer who scored major punches before the inconsequentials cross-talked all night and ratings collapsed. He scored a knock-out punch with his opening: “Mr. Trudeau, you are a phony, you are a fraud, and you do not deserve to govern this country.”

As Politico noted: “Andrew Scheer passed the prime minister plausibility test.”

Trudeau isn’t the only leader on offer who doesn’t deserve support. The Green and NDP platforms are insultingly reckless. These parties do not deserve to govern a household budget or a pop stand.

The Greens pledge to balance Canada’s federal budget within five years. (So did Trudeau in 2015; he ran deficits annually). That aside, their promise is fantastical given their spending initiatives: A pharmacare plan that will cost $27 billion in 2020 and rise to $31 billion annually four years later. This is bigger than Canada’s defence budget.

Green party leader Elizabeth May said she also will waive post-secondary tuition for anybody to study anything anywhere. The cost? Another $16 billion in 2020 and thereafter.

(Not to be overdone, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh promises “free dental care for households making less than $70,000 a year” — a budget item that has yet to be costed.)

Even if such extravagances were necessary, the Greens’ boast of balancing the budget would be impossible given its plan to phase out the oilsands by 2030 (there goes 140,000 jobs and billions in investment dollars and taxes); reduce energy demand by 50 per cent across the board somehow or other (hundreds of thousands more jobs); and convert the mining industry to green technologies (half a million jobs). She also pledges to stop new resource development, drilling, exploration and pipelines.

This platform is suicidal, and will cause immediate trade deficits, budget deficits, unemployment and a massive brain drain.

The NDP’s leader is no better. He would give provinces the right (read B.C. and Quebec) to veto any pipeline project and said: “the future of our country cannot involve fracking. It cannot involve the burning of any fossil fuel.”

Well, there goes the auto industry. too.

Like May, Singh is economically challenged. His answer to cushion the blow is to hike employment insurance payouts and provide retraining. But for what?

As for the Liberals, let’s face it, they are a pale imitation of the NDP with their anti-business legislation and rhetoric.

This cycle demands new electoral laws: people who run for public office should sit an economic IQ test whose results will be published. They should be forced to take a course on markets, business and free enterprise.

They have not offered responsible ideas to manage the affairs of all Canadians. They want to turn Canada, metaphorically, into a hotel where they can order anything they want, at any price, from room service then hand the bill over to taxpayers.

And Trudeau wants to hand out a get out of jail free pass, and new refrigerators, to his Liberal corporate donors and cronies.