US vs Canada Political Conflict and Disputes Concept

America Takes Notice – Obama vs. Harper

He’s good for business. He’s good for the growth of the economy.

He’s the reason why his country’s banking system not only remains safe, but has been ranked by the World Economic Forum in 2008 as the healthiest banking system in the world. He’s the reason why his country will emerge out of this crisis stronger than it has ever been. And he’s the reason why Americans are taking notice.

He’s Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

And he is squashing President Obama on the scorecards.

This past week, the Tories handed in their first report card, created by the Opposition Liberals who insisted, as a condition of their support for the federal budget, that the government introduce one every three months. So far, I am giving them passing grade and it appears that even the opposition party is succumbing to Harper’s methods. “But let me be positive,” said Ignatieff. “I’m delighted that the Government of Canada, the Conservative government, is taking accountability seriously.”

Meanwhile, a new poll revealed that President Obama’s personal approval ratings have slumped to levels below those of George W. Bush at the same stage of his first term. The Rasmussen Reports found that Mr Obama enjoys the confidence of just 56 per cent of voters, with 43 per cent who do not have confidence and a third strongly disapproving of his early performance.

Obama’s first 50 days has passed and now he is clearly being pushed to step up his game. I don’t hear any Republicans giving the Democrats any credit.

Obama continues to be bombarded with opposition toward his overzealous and unrefined spending. But he continues to defend his decision not to veto a massive omnibus bill — passed this week by the Senate — that includes almost $8-billion in earmark spending on items ranging from a tattoo-removal program in California to little green golf carts for his government.

President Obama“I am signing an imperfect omnibus bill because it is necessary for the ongoing functions of government,” said Mr. Obama. Not a very convincing statement.

Meanwhile, Mr. Harper and his government continue to focus on what is necessary for Canada to churn out of this economic crisis. By April 1st, income-tax changes should kick in and the beginning phases of $12 billion in spending on roads, bridges and green infrastructure should take place. “Our action plan is on track. In fact, the pace of its implementation is accelerating,” said Stephen Harper.

“We are executing our economic stimulus package to stabilize markets, provide credit, protect communities, preserve jobs, and to move forward on our longer-term plans for the economy.”

He noted that Canadian’s comparative strengths include:

1) The strongest banking system in the world

2) The best fiscal position in the G7 (Not only of the lowest debt-GDP ratio and a long-term structural balance in the budgets of most governments, but also strengths in off-balance-sheet items such as a solvent public pension plan)

3) The Bank of Canada has a stellar record of low and stable inflation. Canada should avoid both significant deflation and renewed inflation, both of which are significant risks in other countries

4) Highly educated, skilled, largely mobile, modern workforce and real economic diversity, including commodities that will be in high demand as the global economy recovers

He concluded his speech by saying, “We are positioned to emerge from this global recession in a stronger position in the world than we have ever been.”

Yes, Canada is boring. And yes, it’s the last to take any risks. But Mr. Harper’s right. Based on the obvious facts, Canada has done more than survive thus far in this financial crisis.

Canadian banks now are not only well capitalized but are poised to take advantage of opportunities that American and European banks cannot seize. The Toronto Dominion Bank, for example, was the 15th-largest bank in North America roughly the same time last year. Now it is the fifth-largest. Where’s Citigroup?

Perhaps I am being a little harsh on President Obama. The stock market did end positively this past week.

Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.