What was that about?

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In tonight's leaders' debate for the Canadian federal election, there was a curious comment from Conservative leader Stephen Harper. Near the beginning of the final segment on health care when Harper was doing his one-on-one session with Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, Harper was rhyming off "other federal responsibilities" and he ended the sentence with "the economic union, the monetary union".

Anybody else catch that? Anybody else know what it means?

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Hey, I just posted about this one, too. None of the news stories picked up on it that I could see -- I thought it was in the section on US issues, but I'll believe you that it was in the health care section. Anyway, no, I don't know what he meant by this -- maybe we should ask his "handlers" to explain it?

Caught it just now watching the re-run on Newsworld. Honestly it didn't make a lot of sense in context and I'm not sure what Harper actually meant. I assumed it was just awkward phrasing.

Having listened to it, I got the distinct impression that he was expressing support for the continued examination of the "benefits" of "economic union" (i.e., customs/commercial union), and "monetary union".

clear as day.

I mean, really, the hard-core conservative elements in this country, led by our favourite CEO association, have been slavering over the idea of a currency and/or monetary union with the US for years.

Now, Harper wasn't specific about who the union would be with, but unless he is planning for the creation of a true "northern Peso", or a Canada-Algeria currency union, then it's probably a safe bet that he meant the same thing that the conservative business community have meant every time they have talked about monetary union in recent decades.

What I don't get is why no media have picked up on it. I mean, this should be gold. Harper just proposed examining dollarization on national television. Given his relative silence and stoicism for most of the night, you'd think that when he drops a bombshell, people would notice.

Yes, I know that's what monetary union means, but the context was a little strange. Anyway, I also would hope that some journalist or at least the Martin team will pick up on this and pummell him on it tomorrow.

sorry. Didn't mean to be patronizing, just that in\ find the media inattention so completely inexplicable.

I mean, all campaign, the Liberals accuse Harper of having a "hidden agends" (cue scary music), which he laughingly denies. Then, he goes on national television and puts forward a radical visino for the country's economy that isn't in any campaign literature.

And nobody mentions it.


It was probably just him messing up words - wasn't Paul Martin talking overtop of him at that point?

Martin was quiet at that point. This was in a one-on-one exchange with Duceppe.

And nothing in today's Globe article, either. Yes, Andrew H., I cannot understand it either, why no journalist or no other party has picked up on it.

I didn?t hear it, but references to economic/monetary union paired with "other federal responsibilities" particularly in a Harper-Duceppe exchange, suggests a point was being made about the exercise of fiscal and monetary powers by the federal government and its institutions (i.e., the Bank of Canada).

Quebec nationalism and Western (and other) regionalisms have long-standing (and to a certain extent, justifiable) grievances against fiscal and monetary management policies made in Ottawa. For example, tightening money supply to cool Ontario?s economy after the recession of the early 1980s was resented in Quebec and the West because those regional economies hadn?t rebounded as quickly.

It probably wasn?t about monetary union with the US. That idea has less cachet since the rise in value of the Canadian vs. the U.S. dollar, as well as the disastrous experience of Argentina. On the other hand, Harper would be more likely to support monetary union as a way of deepening Canadian integration into the U.S., with the additional benefit of increasing the value of Alberta?s hydrocarbon resources.

I think Bruce is right. In context, it sounded to me like Harper was talking about EXISTING responsibilites of the federal government and not any kind of agenda for future policy.

I think they were talking about the federal role as laid out in Section 92 of the BNA Act. I think they mean the Fed's responisibilty for Canada as an Economic and monetary union.

Well, just a personal view, but I think everyone is getting bent out of shape for nothing.

When I look at it, the impression is that he's grasping for words, the right phrase, to convey a thought or point that he has.

Certainly no reason to go ballistic.

Economic Union: World Trade Organization
Monetary Union: International Monetary Fund


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