Being Economical With The Truth Is The Most Important Thing

Bill 'Big Bucks' Morneau

Bill ‘Big Bucks’ Morneau

Source: Trudeau’s Cabinet Has Diversity, But Conservative White Men Will Keep the Purse Strings | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Dru Oja Jay follows:

…which leads to me to the fact that the two most important positions, Treasury Board and Finance  —  the folks that control what can get funded, when and with how much  —  are a former Tory and a Bay Street boys clubber, respectively.

Scott Brison and Bill Morneau are decidedly status quo choices, continuing the tradition that saw Obama bring in Timothy Geithner and Jean Chretien appoint Paul Martin as finance minister. We all remember how well those appointments went, right?

Finance Minister Bill Morneau went to the University of Western Ontario and the London School of Economics. He is the multi-millionaire founder of a company that provides “human resources services” and manages pension funds for companies and government agencies. (According to SEC filings, his net worth is north of $26 million; his annual salary before he left to run for the Liberals was $1 million.)

From 2010 to 2014, Morneau served as Chair of the C.D. Howe Institute, a nonpartisan, economically conservative think tank that credits itself with having an impact promoting continental “free trade,” lower corporate tax rates, and reducing inflation. As Finance Minister, we can expect him to wield nearly as much power as the Prime Minister  —  perhaps more…

There’s a lot of talk about what kind of message this diverse cabinet sends to Canadians about new eras and new ways of doing things.

There’s another message that is unspoken, but can also be heard quite clearly: talented young MPs, women and people of colour can be the face of a new Canadian government, but conservative white men will hold onto the purse strings, thank you very much.

My online response to the above linked-to article follows:

In this one area alone, namely the appointment of Bill Morneau as finance minister, Trudeau has put his name in stone on a monument to the success of anti-people and anti-livable earth and pro inequality neoliberalism. Bill Morneau ( is the former Chairman of the C.D. Howe Institute. It’s bad enough that these anti-democratic rightwing think tanks have, through corporate owned media and Canada’s zombie Liberal class, poisoned the minds of Canadians. But here, residents of Cabbage Town in Toronto (Toronto Center) have, to a great extent, elected the bloody C.D. Howe! Way to go fellow Canadians!

From Donald Gutstein’s “Harperism,” the following:

“The combined firepower of neo-liberalism think tanks over forty years has reshaped the Canadian climate of ideas to such an extent that it will take years – perhaps decades – for those views to change again. On top of these ideological underpinnings, [Stephen] Harper has fundamentally modified the relationship between state and society. The theme is simple: we must remove obstacles to the attainment of a state governed not by duly elected officials but by market transactions, because economic freedom is more fundamental than political freedom.” -pg 16

Translation: The prosperity of the 1% (‘economic freedom’) is all that matters. And, taking into account the heavy influence of neoconservatism in Canada’s Conservative and Liberal Parties, that economic freedom ‘should’ come at the expense of the 99%. Class warfare is a positive. It makes the ‘warriors’, who are doing fine, feel alive. The paradigm is ‘riches for the strongest’, a contradiction in terms if we accept that we were not meant to live like dogs eating dogs, with winners and losers.

Continuing with Gutstein’s book…

“In 2006, a new foundation began funding neo-liberal infrastructure after Donner cut back its direct support. Peter Munk, who made a fortune as head of Barrick Gold, created the Aurea (“golden,” in Latin) Foundation. The foundation grabbed public attention as sponsor of the Munk Debates, which pits high profile liberals against conservatives to debate controversial topics such as: “I would rather get sick in the United States than Canada,” “Climate change is mankind’s defining crisis and demands a commensurate response,” and “Foreign aid does more harm than good.” The debates serve two purposes. They elevate conservative positions to parity with long-standing liberal viewpoints, crowding out progressive ones. They also mask the foundation’s more financially significant activities: doling out nearly two million dollars a year to Canadian neo-liberal organizations. Major recipients (20017-2012) include… the C.D. Howe Institute ($644,000)…” -pages 63 & 64

There can be no more powerful rightwing think tank in Canada than the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, who former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien [when finance minister under Pierre Trudeau] was proud to tell everyone “I never prepare a budget without seeking out the opinions of the Business Council on National Issues.” Recall how Paul Martin was shilling for Trudeau in the recent election. The corporate owned press marvelled at how ironic it was that deficit fighter Paul was helping to sell deficit spender Justin. Even the (fake) Left kept (and keeps) yammering about how the Liberals outflanked the NDP by pledging to do deficit spending, completely ignoring the fact that, as Emma Lui with the Council of Canadians (suddenly silent on this subject, like Duncan Cameron, who also raised the alarm) pointed out, Trudeau plans to utilize Harper’s P3 fund to do his deficit spending, something that rightwingers like Paul Martin would actually have no problem with, since P3s are essentially privatization by stealth.

Paul Martin and Bill Morneau - photo by Kmathewm (own)

Paul Martin and Bill Morneau – photo by Kmathewm (own)

Here’s what Maude Barlow and Bruce Campbell have to say about Paul Martin and the BCNI (now Canadian Council of Chief Executives), on page [134] of “Straight Through The Heart – How The Liberals Abandoned The Just Society And What Canadians Can Do About It”:

Who wins in the total transformation of these Liberals? The business community, which has shown its appreciation to the Liberal Party (to “Welcome [it] back from the wilderness,” as Tom d’Aquino explains). At a recent Vancouver dinner featuring [Paul] Martin, businessmen showed their support of his budget by raising $85,000 (after expenses) for the party.”

From Tony Clarke’s “Silent Coup – Confronting The Big Business Takeover Of Canada,” pages 15 & 16, the following:

In Canada, the economic think tanks and advisory bodies provided the starting place for the infiltration of [Milton] Friedman’s theories in government bureaucracies. When the NDP under Dave Barret came to power in British Columbia, a small group of powerful B.C. corporate executives led by Pat Doyle of MacMillan Bloedel met in 1975 and discussed the formation of a propaganda think-tank to combat the “socialists.” As author Murray Dobbin explains, they brought in Michael Walker, a Newfoundlander working for the Bank of Canada, who told his backers: “If you really want to change the world, you have to change the ideological fabric of the world.”

Walker went on from there to establish the Fraser Institute, an agency explictly based on the free market theories of Milton Friedman. Focusing on the promotion of market values and cultural change, Walker and his associates at the Fraser developed a multi-faceted program that included writing anti-government and free market articles for weekly newspapers, engaging university students in discussions about free market philosophy, and distributing free market studies to legislators across the country.

However, it was the adoption of Friedmanite theories by established mainstream economic advisory bodies like the C.D. Howe Institute and the Economic Council of Canada that began to turn heads in the Ottawa bureaucracy, as well as several of the provincial capitals. During this period, the president of the C.D. Howe Institute, Carl Beigie, emerged as one of the country’s chief economic gurus in the fight against increased government intervention in the economy. On almost a daily basis, Beigie made pronouncements in the business press, warning against rising budget deficits and the threats of increasing protectionism, and calling for free trade with the United States and a new role for government.

In effect, the C.D. Howe Institute became the staging ground for the resurgence of free market theories in official circles within Canada. To be sure, the Fraser Institute was known to be Canada’s No. 1 cheerleader for Friedmanite doctrines. But it was the Howe Institute, which had become recognized as Canada’s most prestigious economic think-tank under Beigie’s direction, that paved the way for legitimizing Friedman’s market theories in government circles and the mainstream press. Later, it would come as no surprise to discover that both the Howe and the Fraser Institutes were heavily funded by some of Canada’s major corporations and banks.”

Tony, in his above book, refers to the BCNI as a shadow cabinet. Indeed, It might be in that book (I’d have to closely check) or some other book or article I read many years ago, but I recall how researchers found that the papers (these orgs are hardcore pro active and have papers on everything, ready to present to legislators as ‘suggestions’) put out by the BCNI, as proposals or advice, ended up being adopted almost verbatim by the government. That’s bad enough. Today, members of the rightwing think tanks must be laughing their butts off and clanking wine glasses together at their good luck. We now just elect them, pretty much.

One more point. Just as it was never true that Stephen Harper was an economist or had a clue how to contribute to a healthy economy (from the standpoint of regular people), so too these think tanks aren’t primarily about the elevation of the economy over all else. (Harper ‘studied’ economics. Anyone, sane [] or insane, can.) Talking about the importance of the economy, without qualification, is just their language but it’s also language that they must employ to hide the reality of their embrace of inequality. But, like Stephen Harper, it’s more accurate to say that they are all about elevating their ‘riches for the strongest’ paradigm above all else. (Individually, Leaders like Harper and Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, and most of them now, are simply in it for the power, the glory and the riches, in whatever proportion each prefers. To be a player with power, you please other players with power. That’s the game and the people, some who foolishly think they should play it too, pay dearly for their ‘leaders’ to play.) They’ve all been (or ‘chose’ to be) fervent believers in neoliberalism, which, as Donald Gutstein and others note, entrenches inequality. In other words, there ‘has to be losers’. There can’t be an economy that works for all. When neoliberals blather about the economy, while promoting free trade agreements that transfer political power to unaccountable corporations, killing the voice of the people (through neutered, in relation to democratic power, political representation; the democratic deficit), you know that what’s in the works isn’t good for the people. That’s why capitalists want to preempt people’s pushback against exploitation with things like free trade deals. Together with propaganda, and the apathy of the people (now extreme), induced by an element of propaganda called consumerism (capitalism is the true religion; Show your devotion by spending and if you don’t have money to spend, then work more), the business community, not a nice bunch, can’t lose.

Stephen Lendman on Milton Friedman:

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