It is fair to say that this election has come down to a choice of which party leader—and which party—you think is best suited to cope with what will almost certainly be future ongoing economic turmoil.
The problem is that there is a disconnect between their record and their rhetoric.
Consider the Liberals and Tories, the only parties who can claim to have track records to go with their promises.
The Conservatives claim they should get your vote based in no small measure on their management of the economy during their last two years in office.
The reality? The Tories inherited huge annual surpluses from the previous Liberal government. The Harper government then turned around and increased overall program spending (reality v rhetoric) at the same time that it reduced available government revenues by cutting the GST and corporate taxes. The result is a situation in which we were already staring at a deficit for next year even before the current global economic collapse. (That looming deficit was one reason Harper triggered this election sooner rather than later.)
Scratch the Tories on that score.
At the same time, it is equally hard to give much credence to Stephane Dion’s promise that the Liberals would not only keep us out of deficit—remember Paul Martin, he continuously reminds us—but also protect the nation’s critical social safety net… Perhaps not surprisingly, he doesn’t ask us to remember Paul Martin when he makes this claim. The truth is that Martin only achieved his balanced budgets by dramatically cutting—and never restoring—social services.