A commentary by a retired business leader who has been a director of five global corporations.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s speech at the party’s recent convention was an opportunity to attract Canadians wanting change. Unfortunately, as John Ivison reported in his March 24 National Post column, six in 10 Canadian voters remain politically homeless after the O’Toole speech.
Here is my version of a speech that would have resonated with many of those politically homeless:
“My fellow Canadians, as I contemplate a new future for our country, I’m reminded of a quote by the great British prime minister Margaret Thatcher as she took over from a corrupt, deeply socialist party that had transformed the once strong and proud United Kingdom into an impotent, failing nation. She said: ‘We will stand on principle or we will not stand at all.’
“No leader can ever promise perfect government, but I will promise you ethically principled government.
“Our party has supported expenditures to help Canadians weather the pandemic. The problem is the Trudeau government’s dysfunctional and politicized implementation. As a percentage of gross domestic product, Canada’s $686 billion in COVID-19 response spending was more than twice all but two other G-20 countries.
“Sadly, as you already know, much of that enormous expenditure was wasted due to a flawed structure and inept administration. And almost none of those billions went to support the more than 200,000 small businesses that will never reopen, destroying the years of dedicated work and hard-earned savings it took to build them.
“Now, as vaccines begin to defeat the coronavirus, the Liberals contemplate adding another $100 billion to the vast sum already spent, taking our national debt to a staggering $1.2 trillion.
“The resignation of finance minister Bill Morneau over the WE scandal, perpetrated by the prime minister himself, left the Trudeau cabinet woefully bereft of financially literate ministers. Now the most precarious financial situation in our country’s history is in the hands of a former schoolteacher and a former journalist, both with zero financial market experience.
“Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland have deluded themselves to believing in a fantasy world where global financial markets allow gargantuan deficits to be funded at near-zero interest rates. The reality is that interest rates are closely tied to inflation and inflation is tied to the cost of consumer goods.
“Even now, the costs of groceries, appliances and construction materials are rising rapidly. Past inflationary periods drove the interest rate on our national debt as high as 16 per cent. A mere two per cent interest uptick on a $1.2-trillion debt would cost $24 billion annually.
“Their other dangerous delusion is that GDP growth will offset additional debt costs. But the main thing keeping our economy going before the pandemic was unsustainable government spending.
“The only hope for our county’s economic resurgence is private-sector investment. But since the Liberals took power in 2015, investor confidence has plummeted. In the past five years, investment by Canadian companies out of the country has exceeded foreign investment into Canada by $150 billion.
“Fixed capital formation, another measure of investor confidence, has plummeted to third worst in the 37-country OECD, ahead of only Brazil and Mexico. Adding to those self-inflicted wounds is the Trudeau government’s ideological hostility to the oil and gas industry, the country’s largest source of tax and export revenue.
“Our new Conservative government would unleash the huge potential of our private sector to rebuild our battered economy.
“Achieving that would also mean dealing with job-killing Chinese imports and the Trudeau carbon taxes. I know this will come as a surprise, but those two issues are intrinsically linked. How? The answer lies in the ancient art of Pi’anju’, the Chinese word for deception.
“In his treatise The Art of War in the sixth century BC, Chinese General Sun Tzu described the use of strategic deception to ‘subdue the enemy without battle … to contest for world supremacy.’
“China’s green energy promises are a prime demonstration of strategic deception. Coal-burning power generation plants make China the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
“China has pledged to turn itself into a green energy champion by replacing those coal plants with wind and solar power.
“But a joint report by the U.S.-based Global Energy Monitor and the Helsinki-based Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air found that China built three-times more coal-fired electrical capacity in 2020 than the rest of the world combined.
“Those new plants alone will soon be producing more than Canada’s national total greenhouse gas emissions. Canada converted coal-burning plants to much lower emission natural gas years ago, leaving our manufacturers almost no room to lower emissions further.
“Could there be a clearer example of using strategic deception to ‘subdue the enemy without battle’?
“President Xi Jinping knows we’re addicted to China’s cheap manufactured goods, and he must be overjoyed to see the Trudeau government’s carbon taxes and costly green power plans make it even more impossible for our manufacturers to compete. He has us exactly where he wants us, and no amount of indignation over hostage diplomacy, forced Uyghur labour camps or his other outrageous behaviours will change that.
“His words ‘the East is rising — the West is declining’ couldn’t be clearer. Yet the Trudeau government continues to naively accept his green assurances.
“What will our new Conservative government do? We will encourage manufacturing of our own goods by transferring Trudeau’s carbon taxes to those high emission Chinese imports.
“And we’ll work with the provinces to streamline regulations and remove internal trade barriers for manufacturers. We will build jobs here at home, not in China.
“It’s time for a prime minister who won’t fall for China’s lies.”
This is a speech that I believe would have received a much better reception among those politically homeless voters.