Thursday, December 18, 2008

Flaherty taps business elite for economic panel.

Government of the people by and for the corporate elite. Notice that there are no labor or consumer representatives on the council, not even economists it seems. But then who needs an economist after all the Great Helmsman Harper is an economist.

Thursday » December 18 » 2008

Flaherty taps business elite for economic panel

James Wood
Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Thursday, December 18, 2008
SASKATOON - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty reached into the ranks of Canada's corporate elite Thursday to appoint a panel to give him advice for the Jan. 27 budget, and in the future to deal with "the continuing deterioration of the world economy."
The 11-member economic council is being chaired by former B.C. Liberal finance minister Carole Taylor and includes some big names in Canadian business. Among them are B.C. billionaire Jim Pattison, Research in Motion founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, Paul Desmarais Jr., chairman and co-CEO of Power Corp. of Canada, and James D. Irving of New Brunswick's Irving family.
"They are, by and large, business leaders in Canada, so this is the type of on-the-ground advice that I welcome," Flaherty told reporters in Saskatoon.
"I called them all personally, and I said your advice is needed for your country, and all of them said yes."
The members have all agreed to a salary of $1 and will hold their first meeting with Flaherty next Tuesday in Toronto.
Flaherty, who was holding pre-budget consultations with Saskatchewan stakeholders Thursday, said the government was listening to the advice of ordinary Canadians as well and would hold town hall meetings.
The minister said he wants the new council to give him advice on areas such as taxation, spending, economic stimulus and credit in preparation of the budget.
The Conservative government is considering further tax cuts in that document to help boost an economy in recession, Flaherty said. "It is an option."
"There are two basic ways of stimulating the economy further. One is tax reductions, the other is additional spending in areas like infrastructure. They're both on the table."
Flaherty said he wants the council to provide continuity after the budget to help with what he described this week as a "difficult year" in 2009.
The announcement comes a day after the Finance Department released a revised economic update Wednesday that now forecasts the economy will contract by 0.4 per cent in 2009 rather than grow, and the government will run a deficit estimated at about $5 billion in the upcoming budget. In addition, the document also cites worst-case projections by private-sector forecasters that show the economy contracting from the current fiscal year through 2013-14.
Flaherty also met Wednesday with provincial and federal finance ministers in Saskatoon.
That meeting focused on infrastructure spending as a means of stimulus for the economy, but there were also significant concerns about the availability of credit for business and consumers.
Asked about the issue Thursday, Flaherty said the government has been helping banks by actions such as buying up mortgages.
"We expect the banks to reciprocate. We expect the banks to provide adequate credit in Canada, not only credit that is affordable but available. And that includes Canadian families - car loans, for example - and it includes businesses both large and small in Canada," he said.
Flaherty said he would be meeting with bank CEOs at the beginning of January, and "I expect them to make it evident to us that they are taking steps to make credit more available in Canada."
Other members of the economic advisory council meanwhile are business people Geoff Beattie, George Gosbee, Isabelle Hudon, Ajit Someshwar, Annette Verschuren and academic Jack Mintz.
© Canwest News Service 2008

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