Plus ça change…

 Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

January 2, 2009

Thanks to the CBC web site for the roster and background information.



The more things change, the more they stay the same. The folks who brought you the current economic mess tell us they’re fixin’ to fix it, but it really looks more like the fix is in. Finance minister Jim Flaherty is consulting the best and brightest minds in the country to come up with a way to kick-start the economy, to put it back on the growth rails and to get those dividends and capital gains flowing again as we build to the next bubble.

Flaherty’s choices make clear what his intentions are as every single member of the blue-ribbon panel comes from the world of business and finance, without the slightest taint of labour, organized or otherwise, or of civil society, following closely Calvin Coolidge’s famous pre-Depression dictum that the business of America is business, very much in keeping with the cozy relationship that our Prime Minister has cultivated with the neo-conservative crowd in Washington.

Heading up the posse is our own Carole Taylor, who has most recently served as Finance Minister in the Campbell cabinet here in B.C., whose clear mantra has been to follow the creed that tax cuts are good and that nothing should be held in common.

She is ably seconded by none other than B.C.’s favoured son, Jim Pattison of the Pattison group, characterized by the CBC as being at the helm of “a sprawling empire” that is “one of the largest privately held Canadian companies.” Mr. Pattison has never been known to be terribly generous where others are concerned, preferring to squire such notables as G.H.W. Bush and Oprah Winfrey around on his yacht.

We also get Paul Desmarais, Jr., currently chair of the executive committee of Power Corporation and scion of a family that has cultivated political connections with a series of prime ministers and others of major political standing.

He is joined by James Irving, President of J.D. Irving which controls large swaths of business interests in Atlantic Canada.

Our next rising star is George Gosbee, CEO of Tristone Capital, Inc., which is a Calgary-based investment bank catering to energy clients. He also heads the Alberta Investment Management Corporation, a Government of Alberta fund, which gives yet another glimpse into the cozy relationship between business and politicians.

Isabelle Hudon is the President of Marketel, a Montreal marketing company, who will perhaps bring her retailing and marketing experience to bear in selling the program of this panel to the Canadian electorate.

Ms. Hudon will also be working with Mike Lazaridis, founder and co-CEO of Research In Motion, who has sold untold numbers of Blackberry wireless devices to business folks all over the world.

We will also benefit from the wisdom of Jack Mintz, former head of the C.D. Howe Institute, one of the great apologists for the philosophy of market primacy, Ajit Someshwar, native of Mumbai, and CEO of CSI Consulting, whose specialties are information technology and management consulting. and the team is rounded out by Annette Verschuren, who does duty as the Division President for Home Depot Canada, after stints with the Cape Breton Development Corporation, the Canadian Investment Development Corporation and Michael’s, the arts and crafts stores of which she was president and co-owner.

These are all people who have proven their ability to succeed in business, and some of them in government (thought under business-oriented régimes), but some might be left asking themselves how they’re going to be able to help those who lose their jobs, those who lose their homes, those who will need social services when they have failed to do so in their careers thus far. The current economic crisis touches not only business large and small, but the whole of Canadian society, and Flaherty shows his colours all too clearly in ensuring that those voices that represent constituencies other than business will continue to be held out of the dialogue. It is especially interesting to note that there is no representation of the environmental constituency when there is a clear opportunity to work on what has been a dismal record on the environment while reconstituting an economy that can function for the betterment of all Canadians while moving that same economy to a footing that will include the notion of sustainability.


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