1. The business community wants stability. It’s a huge reason Canada’s banking system has earned high praise internationally and attracted currency buyers, sending the loonie to record levels and making all of us richer. Increasing the corporate tax rate from 15 percent (what the Conservatives have set it to fall to in 2012) to the NDP-proposed 19.5 percent would be a shock to the system. The world economy is still in precarious condition, as Portugal’s debt woes show, and no one can predict what the ramifications will be from all the other delicate situations in the world (Japan’s recovery, Arab world unrest, fluctuating oil prices). So while the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives can come out with timely reports declaring corporate tax cuts are poor for job creation and capital investment spending, it hasn’t published a paper saying the business world would take a spike in the corporate tax rate in stride. Jack Layton is taking the public for fools when he tells us he’ll keep corporate taxes here below the U.S. rate, which is 26 percent (although there are all kinds of ways around paying that much). Of course our rate is never going to increase to that level in this decade, and competing with the U.S. rate isn’t the point. Low corporate taxes, combined with a stable economy, will draw more corporations to Canada and retain those that are here. If the Conservatives or Liberals are smart (wishful thinking, I know), they’ll incrementally increase the corporate tax rate once the global economy is healthy. The goal should be to lure lots of big businesses here and then slowly turn up the heat to get as much as we can out of them before they flee to Zug, Switzerland.
2. Layton’s a great attack dog. What would happen if he actually got that bone? Truth is, there’s reason to doubt his ability to lead the nation. Think Barack Obama, without the massive groundswell of support, global goodwill, happenin’ dance moves and cute kids. The honeymoon would be very short for Layton — should the fantasy scenario of an NDP election victory materialize. All the people charmed by the way he scrutinizes the Tories and Grits would start questioning whether he’s too generous to unions and why he can’t get the provinces on-board with his wish to hire more doctors and what the hold up is with all the goodies he promised in the election. Running in third place, Jack can go all moral on Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff and win points with the electorate. The mustache might get razed a little were he suddenly the one being chased.
3. Someday, when we look back at Layton’s career, we will truly understand how much power and influence he’s wielded during the past seven years. A lot of his work has benefited the country. Yet, as The Guy Who Wants to Destroy Canada pointed out in this week’s debates, Layton is more than willing to engage in conversations about a takeover of Parliament by opposition parties. He’s also a politician like the rest, prone to putting his best interests ahead of the nation’s. When he saw Paul Martin’s government floundering and the opportunity for his party to pick up more seats, he brought down the Liberals, effectively killing a $5-billion national universal daycare program set for implementation. What happened? Harper’s first minority government came into power in 2006, squashed the Liberals’ plan and replaced it with his $100-a-month pittance. Layton said the Liberals break all their promises so he didn’t mind bringing them down when he did. Coincidentally, the NDP went from 19 seats to 29. Is that savvy politicals or what?
4. Although Layton exudes leadership qualities, his party is thin. When Ryan Dolby, who was to run in London, Ontario, bowed out while the campaign was only a few days old he did it because he wanted to avoid vote-splitting with the Liberals, potentially creating an environment for a Conservative majority. It was a worst-case scenario for Layton — being marginalized from within. Libby Davies (Vancouver East), Layton’s deputy leader, has strong credentials and Layton’s wife, Olivia Chow, should retain her powerful Trinity-Spadina riding again. But nationally, there’s still not a lot of heft behind Layton’s big star. Perhaps he overshadows everyone else. For the health of the party, some other NDP candidate should’ve stepped up by now and no one has, and that’s worrying for Layton and his dream of eclipsing Ed Broadbent’s 43 seats.
5. Afghanistan. Mentioned this in a recap of the leaders’ debate the other night. This would be a terrible time for Canada to up and leave altogether. The Americans have just started putting large numbers back in, after shifting away from Iraq. Canadian forces are responsible for patrolling just two districts — Dand and Panjwaii — in Kandahar province. That’s down from five and with the combat mission wrapping up for our troops, the forces that remain behind will be crucial in allowing communities to develop. Layton wants to pull all troops out; Harper and Ignatieff see the benefit — and duty — of leaving some forces on the ground.