ZYTARUK: Abstract election promises will soon give way to chickens in pots

I imagine many of you are thinking man-oh-man, won’t this election campaign ever end? I know I am.

Tom Zytaruk asks

So let it be written…

Experienced a little election deja vu this week, in the form of a headline: “Economy hangs in the balance; A vote for Conservatives a vote for stability, says PM.”

When was it written? Well, not this week.

Not even this year.

The headline was published on page A7 of the Province newspaper on Sept. 24, 2008.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had swung through Surrey to stump for Nina Grewal, the veteran Conservative MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells, to tell hundreds of Tory fans that “British Columbians don’t need us to go back into deficits. And that’s why  (they) will not vote Liberal in this election.”

Remember, this was seven years ago.

“Conservatives offer stability and a clear direction, the (other guys) offer nothing but criticism and risk,” Harper told his crowd.

Where have we heard that recently?

Everywhere, from Harper.

Where did we hear it from in 2008 and 2011?

Everywhere, from Harper.

Now that’s staying on message.

But has the economy done better under his nine-year watch?

Speaking about staying on message, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is fond – very fond – of telling whomever will listen that Harper has the worst record on economic growth of any prime minister since the Great Depression.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Press did a gross domestic product (GDP) tally using data from Statistics Canada and found that the nation’s average economic growth under Harper (2006 to present) was 1.77 per cent.

The prime minister occupying the next rung up from the bottom of the ladder was the Liberal leader’s own dad, Pierre Trudeau (1980-84) at 2.16 per cent.

Of course, the NDP is an unknown quantity in this regard, simply because they’ve never formed a federal government. Some of their provincial government comrades have been known to freak out economists at the provincial level, however.

I imagine many of you are thinking man-oh-man, won’t this election campaign ever end?

I know I am. I also wonder, when the political party leaders point fingers at each other over the nation’s economy, or claim they’ll put hundreds of millions of dollars into public infrastructure or whatever cause, what this all really means to the many people who are struggling from cheque to cheque. Do these people lose sleep over the GDP? I know I don’t.

Herbert Hoover is said to have run his 1928 U.S. presidential campaign on the slogan, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” Others say King Henry IV of France coined this chickens-in-pots-for-all-his-subjects concept 500 years ago.

There are 11 days left before we vote and as the parties become increasingly panicked, I predict most of the big guns will fall silent on the national battlefields. That is, abstract announcements promising hundreds and millions for this and that will be increasingly set aside as the fighting moves to the  street. Expect more door-to-door, hand-to-hand combat (metaphorically speaking) over what they’ll do for us as individuals. Chickens might even be thrown, into pots.

We’re seeing it already, with the Conservatives promising to cut payroll taxes by more that 20 per cent in 2017 (who doesn’t want that?), the NDP saying they’ll phase out interest on federal student loans, the Green Party promising to “abolish” said interest on new student loans and forgive all student loans over $10,000…

Them’s some tasty chickens. Expect more closer-to-home goodies being promised to you over the next 11 days.

Promises, promises.

So let it be done.

Email Tom at tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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