Monday, April 25, 2011

With Six You Get Eggroll

"The multimillion-dollar F-35 stealth fighter the Conservatives want to purchase comes with all the accoutrements of a high-tech aircraft — everything except an engine."
- The Calgary Herald - April 16, 2011

Throughout the federal election campaign there’s been some debate about the actual cost of the new fighter jets the Harper government is planning to purchase. The other parties kept saying that the Tories had low-balled the price. Finally, there is a satisfactory explanation. The Conservatives’ cost estimate is accurate but only because each plane comes without an engine.

What is even more surprising is that the revelation of Canada’s new engine-less fleet of fighter jets has not appeared to hurt the Tories in the polls. They’re still hovering in the high 30s with a Parliamentary majority easily in sight.
Given the public’s apparent willingness to accept just about anything when it comes to political promises, all of the federal parties are now scrambling to up the ante, to wit:

The Liberals
Since there is no downside to empty promises (or at least empty planes), Michael Ignatieff has revised his party’s commitment to healthcare spending. "We previously promised an annual increase in transfers to the provinces of six per cent," said the Liberal leader. "But we now realize that we were being, if you’ll pardon the expression, conservative in our estimate. We’d now like to up that promise to twelve per cent a year." Since there is little chance that the Liberals will form the government, Mr. Ignatieff is prepared to up that promise by six per cent a week until such time as his party sees an actual bump in the polls.

The Conservatives
After promising Canadians relatively inexpensive, albeit engine-less, planes, it was difficult for the Conservatives to come up with something better. But thanks to the Tories’ political brain trust, it looks like they may have an even more incredible promise up their collective sleeve: tax-less corporations. "I know we said that we were lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 per cent," said Stephen Harper. "But there’s really no reason we can’t knock that right down to nothing. In other words, there would still be a corporate tax rate; it’s just that it would be zero. If a 15 per cent rate creates jobs, imagine what a zero per cent rate will do."

Now seeing that there is no downside to campaign commitments, Jack Layton has decided to promise the moon. Literally. "So far we’ve promised Canadians a chicken in every pot and a Lada in every garage," said Mr. Layton. "But now we’re shooting for the moon or, to be more precise, actually promising the moon." If voters decide to elect Canada’s first NDP government, each and every citizen will be deeded a plot of land on the lunar surface. "It’s yours to keep and do with as you please," said Layton. "All you have to do is get there and stake your claim."

The Bloc Quebecois
When it comes to incredible promises, the Bloc appears to have outdone all the other parties. "If Stephen Harper can sell you an engine-less jet," said Gilles Duceppe. "Then it should be easy for me to sell Quebecers on a cost-free independent Quebec. Just vote ‘yes’ and you can have it all: a separate Quebec nation plus a Canadian passport and continuing federal transfer payments from Ottawa." Sadly, though, the cost-free Quebec nation may have one other similarity to the new F-35s: it may never fly.

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