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One of the keys to handling a crisis is to be able to set aside ideology and do what must be done, even if it’s uncomfortable. Stephen Harper’s handling of the 2008 Financial Crisis was a clear example of that.
Harper had a deep ideological aversion to budget deficits, stimulus spending, bailouts, and government intervention. Yet, the unprecedented nature of the crisis required all of those things to be done.
Rather than put his ideology ahead of the moment, Harper took action quickly, helping bailout the auto sector, bringing in a huge stimulus package, and running large budget deficits. All of those moves may have been ideologically unpalatable to Harper, but he helped protect the economy, ensuring that Canada withstood the recession far better than most countries.
Over time, the economy recovered, and the budget was balanced as the Conservatives left office.
The key lesson is that when it mattered most, Stephen Harper reacted to the situation in a logical way, rather than putting his ideology ahead of everything else. That’s why it would be good to have a serious leader like Harper in charge right now, as Canada faces the coronavirus crises, an oil price crash, and a huge market drop.
Despite many countries — including close Canadian allies like Australia and the US — issuing travel restrictions on China, the Trudeau Liberals refused. Since that refusal, the coronavirus has spread far beyond China, with further mass outbreaks in Iran, Italy (which is now fully on lock down) and reaching the point where it’s an obvious world-wide pandemic.
Yet, over and over again, the Trudeau government put their post-national ideology first, refusing to ban flights, and even leading off by claiming concerns were “fear-mongering,” “racism,” and “stigma.”
In short, rather than realize that a crisis was looming, and rather than put aside their political views to take tough measures, the Liberals doubled-down on leaving the borders open and pushing political correctness.
Now, shutting down more flights and toughening up the borders would not have guaranteed that Canada remained untouched by the virus.
But what it would have done is buy some extra time. An extra week, an extra two weeks, maybe an extra month.
And in a pandemic, where infections can grow exponentially and every hour matters, an extra week or month could have been massive. It would have meant more time to get hospitals ready, to buy necessary medical equipment, and to get our nation prepared for the crisis.
When it comes to the struggling economy, market decline and oil price collapse, the government needs to take strong measures to support Canada’s energy industry. Once again, Trudeau has regularly done the opposite, putting virtue-signalling ahead of the health of the Canadian energy sector and Canadian economy.
So, whether people agree with Harper or not, his handling of the economic crisis is a good example, and something that Trudeau should have emulated.
At such an unstable and dangerous moment, Canada could certainly benefit from having a serious person like Harper at the helm.