Wearing thin

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was brimming with optimism in Brampton yesterday, where he delivered a speech in which he said the current economic crisis is “an opportunity to position ourselves so that when the recovery comes, we’re among the first to catch the wave.”
This may well prove to be true, but it had a decidedly hollow ring to it coming from a man who refused to use the ‘D’ word (deficit) or ‘R’ word (recession) during the federal election campaign just last fall. Did he truly not see how quickly—and deeply—the economic collapse would be, or was he deliberately trying to shield Canadians from the turmoil ahead as he fought to capture the big prize: a majority government?
This also being the same man who steadfastly maintained a similar tack as late as November, when Finance minister Jim Flaherty presented an economic statement so ludicrous in its relatively rosy outlook that it very nearly toppled his government and plunged Canadians into another election.
Frankly, how can we believe a man who was saying “What recession?” just a few months ago when he’s now trumpeting how well we’ll come out of it?
To the prime minister’s credit, he rightly has decided to finally be seen at the helm as his government tries to maneuver the country through a devastating economic downturn. And optimism is important, particularly during a recession, as a means to revive flagging consumer confidence which ultimately will drive the recovery.
This isn’t a case of the glass being half full or half empty, however. Rather, this seems to be Mr. Harper holding up an empty glass and telling everyone that it’s full (the water just happens to be invisible).
You can’t blame Canadians who have lost their jobs, are about to lose their homes, or have seen their retirement nest egg plundered if they’re reluctant to take this leap of faith.
They want answers and action now—not the same old “don’t worry, be happy” mantra that’s rapidly wearing thin.