Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 32

Stephen Harper is confused. Following a quick little speech on Wednesday in BC, the press gave him more than one opportunity to explain the comments he made about the bargains to be had in the stock market in the midst of this crash. His response?

Harper defended his comments, saying it was obvious to anyone who saw the interview that he was "specifically talking about the fact that many Canadians have seen big losses in their portfolios in the last couple of weeks."

"I know that because, as I say, my mother is one of those people, and I hear about it every single day. And we know that people are worried ,and they have a right to be worried about what's going on in financial markets," Harper said in a campaign appearance in Victoria.

He then repeated it wasn't appropriate for a prime minister to "join in a wave of stock market panic and pessimism around the world," but rather to ensure the government prepares in advance and make long-term investments to protect Canadians' interests.

"We had a plan," he said. "We do not get caught up in market panic."

See, here's the deal, Steve. If you don't want people to panic, you tell them not to panic. You don't tell them, with a wink and a nudge, that now's the time to buy low so you can sell high later. First of all, that does absolutely nothing for seniors like your mother who don't have much later left and who can't afford to wait for the economic sun to start shining again (not to mention that it's doubly insulting to seniors who lost out because of the Cons' income trust flip flop).

Secondly, you are not the Prime Stockbroker. You are (for now, anyway) the Prime Minister. And, as one reporter pointed out during the Q&A period in BC, you are not the chair of the Bank of Canada. It's not your job to hint about possible rate cuts any more than it is your job to offer investment advice.

Who would vote for this guy considering that he doesn't even know what his job description entails?

Here in Alberta:

Alberta's Progressive Conservative premier wants to meet with his provincial counterparts to discuss the state of the Canadian economy, even though Stephen Harper called the same proposal by Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion "panicking."

This is how this is all rolling out: anything not proposed by Steve and his federal Cons is "panicking". Maybe he shouldn't send Flaherty to the G7 meeting in Washington on Friday. Surely that's "panicking" as well?

What's ironic about this stance is that Steve is fearmongering by claiming everyone else is panicking and that is causing more panic because, at the same time, the Cons aren't providing anything resembling a long-term, stable vision that makes sense. Instead, their platform is a piecemeal offering that isn't cohesive. There is no grand picture besides stay the course.

And, speaking of Flaherty, he disclosed on Wednesday that his department had warned "a couple" of Canadian banks last year "that their capitalization levels were on the brink of falling below accepted standards". He wouldn't reveal which banks were on the receving end though and we have no way of finding out so how can we even know 1) if that's true or 2) what happened?

Meanwhile, no word so far from Flaherty on the settlement reached between RBC Capital and the SEC.

RBC Capital Markets, the investment banking arm of Royal Bank of Canada, also neither admitted or denied wrongdoing. It said the buyback would cut into its fourth-quarter earnings by about $30 million on a pretax basis. That estimated loss includes the $9.8 million civil penalty the company agreed to pay to Cuomo's office and the North American Securities Administrators Association, which represents securities regulators in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The SEC, Cuomo's office and other state regulators have been conducting a wide-ranging investigation into banks' marketing of auction-rate securities. The regulators have alleged that the banks misled customers into believing auction-rate securities were safe, cash-like investments.

If you listen to Steve tell it though, Canadian banks are squeaky clean with basically no problems and that's the problem with people being lulled into a very false sense of security by all of this stay the course talk the Cons are trying to sell. We're not panicking. We just want the truth along with assurances that the next PM actually understand what his job is - and we certainly aren't getting that from Harper.
 

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