Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SM is Dead: Mulroney's Trial Balloon, or Loose Cannon?

In a recent speech, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney proposed that Canada's Supply Management System be killed off.  Was Mulroney asked to launch a trial balloon, or is he a senile loose cannon that is inconsequential to the PC Goverment of today?

Former Prime Minister, PC's Senior Statesman, recommends
killing off Canada's Supply Management System
Mulroney said,
 "... I believe we should give some thought to the consideration to the careful, innovative and generous phase-out of our supply managed programs for dairy and poultry.”
Prime Minister Steven Harper is crafty.  He is a free trader, as evidenced by killing off the Wheat Board, and all the free-trade deals he has inked.  However, Harper realizes the hidden (and not so hidden) political forces in Canada.  He is under significant pressure from EU and TPP trade talks to curtail the local subsidies and protections from Supply Management for dairy, poultry, and eggs.

The Supply Management lobby, combined with their Big Ag. friends (the multi-billion agriculture multi-nationals) are very powerful special interest groups.  Harper is still responding to the fall out from nixing the National Wheat Board.  He has an election to win next year.  How many electors does he piss off by killing Supply Management?  How many consumers might benefit from cheaper food and better choices?  What to do?

No matter what Harper does now, the positive impacts for consumers from killing SM are not likely to magically appear in the next 9 months.  That means Harper would stir the pot, upset many people in SM, but would not yet generate the mid-term benefits for all consumers before Canadians go to the polls.  Now is not a good time.

Or maybe not.

In politics, it's always wise to hedge your bets.  You should always have options to pick from, for the winds of change sometimes blow in many different directions.

This is where Mulroney comes in.

If Harper can get Mulroney to propose significant change in Supply Management, and it is accepted and applauded by non-SM farmers, consumers, and the main stream media, then the PC's can take the credit, and proudly place it as one of the planks in their platform for the next election in 2015.

If Mulroney's trial balloon sinks as it turns to heavy lead, the current PC government can dismiss Mulroney as an old goat or loose cannon, who is no longer coherent, and should be dismissed and forgotten with his wild ramblings.  Either way, Harper and the PC's of today are protected and enhanced.  Mulroney gets to play visionary, with little downside risk, as SM has to go sooner or later.  If the "Kill SM" agenda is delayed, Mulroney becomes the first mainstream politician to propose it, and cements his reputation as a visionary.

Martha Hall Findlay, a former MP who ran for the Liberal leadership in 2006 and 2013, also calledfor scrapping SM.  Did she lose Leader due to this policy gaff, or did it make her a more renound candidate who unfortunately lost in spite of this visionary policy?

Either way, the tide is slowly turning against SM.

SM won't like that.  They are worried enough to already have hired a CPO (Chief Propaganda Officer) for SM's phoney messages.  As it becomes more and more bleak, SM will fight like a cornered rat.  They will not go away quietly.

It should all make for an interesting time.

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