Stephen Harper’s Tories can run $56-billion deficits, raise spending to all-time record levels, and grease every Conservative riding with layers of pork; they can abandon Afghanistan, coddle Quebec, and adopt the NDP approach to foreign investment; and still there exists in people’s minds another Conservative party, somewhere, for whom these policies are anathema.
Yes the Conservatives are guilty of pork barrel politics. Yes the Conservatives are guilty of codding Quebec. However, Harper is no Mulroney and everything else Coyne he says is completely ridiculous.
As a percentage of GDP, government spending is neither high in comparison to other nations nor is it historically high by Canadian standards. Furthermore, the whole basis of Coyne's silly thesis is the fact that he uses the mid 90s as his measuring stick and never mentions that Martin cut government spending to levels not seen since the 1950s and the fact that he likes to focus on absolute spending and not spending relevant to GDP. Of course, Coyne never laments the fact that military spending is growing faster than any other area and is up 56% since 1999. Apparently in Coyne's mind, spending on programs that actually benefit Canadians is waste of money but engaging in expensive foreign wars that do not benefit Canadians in any way is our moral duty. Incidentally, a rise in military spending is something Coyne should lament. In marked contrast to health car, a rise in military spending in absolute terms is not needed to keep up with a rising population.
As for the notion that Canada has "abandoned" Afghanistan, never mind the missions complete futility and cost or the fact that our being there increases the chances that we will be attacked by terrorists home grown (e.g., Toronto 18) or otherwise (e.g., Al Qaeda claiming that we are a target because of our presence in Afghanistan) this is pretty strange assertion to make given that Canada has been there 9 years and that Canada has just signed up for 3 more years without Parliament ever been consulted.
Finally, the notion that Canada should act like a financially desperate country whose markets have been pried open by the IMF and world bank is just plain stupid.