Tuesday, July 05, 2005

CPC is “pro-market” not “pro-business”

In a recent post, ALW looks at the common assumption that Conservative Party policies “favour corporations at the expense of the little guy.” He notes that their success at soliciting electoral contributions from individual Canadians belies that view.

The CPC is a “pro-market” party. That is not the same as a “pro-business” party. Unfortunately, most Canadians do not seem to be able to make this distinction.

The Liberal Party is a corporatist party, that is, pro-large business. Their interests and those of many large corporations are intertwined. The implicit bargain has always been that government regulations and policies will be shaped to benefit their corporate benefactors.

One merely has to look at the list of corporate donors to Paul Martin’s leadership campaign and to the Liberal Party to see who the primary benefactors of Liberal policy largesse are. To be sure, the Bombardiers, the Schwarzes, the McCains, the Stronachs, the Aspers, the Desmaraises and the Irvings, among others, operate in largely competitive, often global, markets. But their financial success is due in no small part to governments tilting policy in their favour. Not surprisingly, they are all major donors to the Liberals. Curiously, the CPC has received little or nothing from most of these corporate titans.

The many subsidies and other political favours that do come their way are at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer and, ultimately, our standard of living. When political influence rather than market savvy becomes a key determinant of success, it is not surprising that Canada’s productivity performance has significantly lagged that of other developed countries. This is the inevitable outcome of Liberal corporatism when government, not the market, picks the “winners” in this country.

A key electoral challenge for the CPC in the months ahead is to convincingly address the false perception that they are somehow beholden to corporate interests. Canadians need to see how a pro-market orientation, in place of the current Liberal corporatist approach, would benefit them and their country. Until they do, we are stuck with Liberals.

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