I’m betting that Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty are fans of the legendary movie director Alfred Hitchcock. The master of suspense was fond of using a storytelling device that became known as the MacGuffin. He basically tricked the audience into focusing their attention on something that wasn’t the real story.
We seen this a lot in Ottawa in the past few years. Most recently, everyone was wondering what would be in the budget. But we were distracted by the news that Flaherty was trying to lean on Canada’s banks and mortgage lenders.
Manulife Financial wanted to give new homebuyers a small discount on their mortgages, thereby increasing the company’s market share. The minister said “Don’t do that please because Canadians are getting in too deep with debt.” Manulife backed down, and their interest rate went back above 3%.
Turns out the minister tried to lean on the Bank of Montreal in the same way, and they ignored him. I say “Good for BMO”. Hopefully Flaherty doesn’t travel out west and try to mess with the credit unions on the prairies.
Did you know that credit unions in Manitoba alone now have total assets of more than $21 billion? They’ve had tremendous success because they’re locally based and responsive to their customers needs, unlike the government in Ottawa.
When it came to the budget, the biggest surprise was the fact that the Finance department could still find shoes made in Canada for the great ‘photo op’.
Were there any game changers in the budget? Chances are we won’t know until the first Omnibus bill comes down. The last ‘budget implementation bill’ was more than 400 pages long, and the government used a hammer to limit debate on just about all of it.
All in all, I’ll take Rear Window or North by Northwest any day over the gong show in Ottawa.
I’m Roger Currie