If the government meant what it said in the throne speech, it has lost its collective mind
by Conrad Black
The Sept. 23 throne speech is, in the irritating modern jargon, a “concerning” document. The speech explicitly stated that today’s aberrantly low interest rates create an opportunity for massive deficit spending because “there is a global consensus that governments must do more … while also locking in the low cost of borrowing for decades to come.” There is no such consensus and the financial markets won’t be bilked like that indefinitely to enable the federal government to finance the farrago of socialist ambitions that it outlined in the speech. If this really were the case, the government would be better advised to increase spending only moderately, and abolish all forms of taxation that inconvenience the lower half of income earners, as they know better what to do with money left in their hands than the legions of busy federal government spenders conjured in the Governor General’s speech like a mass of Wagnerian Nibelungen hurling money out of the windows of every government department. There was the now customary overarching emphasis on the coronavirus and the tired pieties about “fighting climate change” and “systemic racism.” (Racism is being constantly excoriated and reviled and hunted down and whatever else it may be, Canada’s “system” isn’t racist. This has become a monstrous, ghastly, fraudulent cliché.)
The fundamental problem with the official response to the coronavirus in North America is that the Democratic party in the United States and it’s media allies, who are in effect conducting the Democratic campaign in the absence of a feasible presidential nominee from that party, have been focused since March on generating public panic and hysteria about the virus to promote economic recession and embarrass the incumbent president. As in other matters hyped in the U.S., Canada has endured extensive collateral damage from this misinformation campaign, and Canadians have been transformed into a fearful people hiding from a malady that is potentially mortally dangerous only to a small subset of the population. The virus is of minimal concern to 80 per cent of Canadians (and Americans). Approximately 80 per cent of those who are deemed to die from the coronavirus had other substantial medical problems and a short life expectancy. This does not mitigate the sadness of any fatality or the effort that must continue to be made to reduce fatalities to zero, but nor does it justify the hysteria that grips our society. The vast majority of those who contract the coronavirus have no or minimal symptoms; 94.6 percent of Americans who are over 60 years of age survive the coronavirus, 99.997 per cent of Americans beneath the age of 60 survive it and there is no reason to think Canada is materially different. Moreover, because Canada has much lower population density and had a tighter shutdown, and in some cases better management, Canada has only half the U.S. fatality rate.
This entire problem is going to shrink radically on the day after the American election results are known; whether the Democrats win or lose, there will be no point for their media allies to continue to sow hysteria about it. As in most popular trends, opinion in Canada will substantially follow the American pattern. Since the Canadian federal government and its medical and public health experts are a good deal more familiar with these and related facts than I am, the virtual war footing and vocabulary of our governments incite the inference, which is certainly not refuted in the throne speech, that the pandemic is being embraced and the response to it amplified with undoubted legitimate solicitude for those potentially in danger, but also with a fervour based on the opportunity this crisis affords for substantial changes in public policy goals generally.
Only a vaccine will banish the coronavirus and our best course from the beginning has been to disturb the 80 per cent who were practically immune to dying from it as little as possible and to protect the comparatively vulnerable as thoroughly as possible. The level of disruption of the normal lives of the great majority of people that has been inflicted on our societies in North America has never been justified, though it was for a long time excusable as the whole world was entitled to fear that it could be a much more widely devastating affliction than it is. But in this COVID-oppressed atmosphere, the Canadian government has seized the opportunity to relaunch the economy on what it describes in the throne speech as a “sustainable” and “resilient” basis, addressing our supposedly principal long-term challenge: “fighting climate change.” The throne speech again enunciated ambitious goals for the virtual elimination of carbon emissions, meaning that, other than the two billion trees the government promises to plant, the principal target will be the oil and natural gas industries, which will receive what amounts to a delayed death sentence. As I have written here before, it is a myth that “science” is anywhere near a consensus on how the climate is changing, whether it is within the normal cyclical framework of climate change and the extent to which, if at all, it is anthropogenically caused, (i.e., by man). We should be leading the world in analyzing what is happening to the climate rather than launching a ruthless and pompously moralistic civil war on whole regions and industrial sectors of the country on the basis of unproved assumptions of the scope, source and consequences of whatever is happening to the world’s climate.
The throne speech declared that young people, women and “racialized Canadians” (we’re all affiliated with at least one race) have been the principal victims of the job losses generated by the response to the coronavirus. The throne speech proclaimed the federal government to be the principal future source of investment in the country to “build resiliency and to generate growth.… Tax extreme wealth inequality … and ensure the revenue of all the web giants (is) shared more fairly with our creators and media.” (Many parts of the speech were unspecific, but we should be prepared to fear the worst.) Relying on “fiscal sustainability and economic growth” generated by its joyously inexpensive borrowing and profligate spending, the government made extravagant and completely unattainable promises of “a resilient health-care system,” which will ensure that “everyone has access to a family doctor and … to mental health resources.” No such commendable goals could possibly be achieved by such an unfunded and diffuse program as the throne speech outlines. The familiar promise is repeated to “create thousands of jobs” fighting climate change, a complete chimera, and “reducing the impact of climate-related disasters like floods and wildfires,” which in fact have nothing to do with changes in the climate. There are the usual fervently repeated promises of better days for Native people, whose skepticism after these many decades of hearing such promises is understandable. There will be heavier federal government intervention than ever in support of affirmative action and inclusive quotas in all fields.
Almost none of this is going to work very well. If the regime means what it says, it has lost its collective mind, the worthy Chrystia Freeland will become King Lear in drag and the whole country will be the victim.
First published in the National Post.