Farewell, Jim, and don’t let failure smack you on the way out


First, the excellent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announces that the North Atlantic’s ice pack is (just barely) showing signs of (gasp, can it be true?) breaking up.

Then, intrepid scientists at NASA announce that they have identified, for all time, the point at which. . .well, time began.

And if that isn’t enough to tickle a polar witch’s fanny, Canada’s official trustee in bankruptcy, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, announces that he’s had it with politics and so shall, several dozen months before the next federal election, take his leave of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet and try to land himself a real job in the private sector.

Which is another way of saying that, in Canada, time can and does stand still, just when you least expect it.

“Yesterday, I informed the prime minister that I am resigning from cabinet,”Pal Jimmy (we can call him this, since he is, now, one of us again) wrote in in his official statement. “This was a decision I made with my family earlier this year, as I will be returning to the private sector.”

But not before issuing a few well chosen, nicely crafted words on his own behalf:

“I am grateful to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for providing me with the opportunity and responsibility to serve Canadians as their Minister of Finance since 2006, one of the longest serving Finance Ministers in Canadian history.

“As I reflect on my almost two decades in politics, I am proud of the accomplishments of the governments I was part of, provincial and federal. In my time as Finance Minister, I am proud of the work I have done to help manage the deepest economic challenge to face Canada since the depression of the 1930s and ensure Canada emerged stronger and as a recognized economic leader on the international stage.

“Along with managing Canada’s performance during the global economic crisis, I am pleased our government brought forward positive measures to make Canada one of the world’s best places to do business. . .I also made it a priority to help improve the well-being of people with disabilities.

“My goal was always to get Canada back on track to a balanced budget after the large deficit we agreed was necessary in Budget 2009 to combat the Great Recession and protect Canadian jobs. As outlined in Budget 2014, I followed through on that commitment. There is no doubt that Canada’s budget will be balanced in 2015.  Canada’s fiscal position is the envy of the developed world. All Canadians can be proud of the country’s performance.

“Now, I will focus on life beyond politics as I return to the private sector. I believe that I have served my country, province and constituents of Whitby-Oshawa to the best of my abilities and thank them for their continued trust and support for almost two decades. . .Thank you, Jim Flaherty.”

No, Jim, thank you.

Thanks to your determination to get the country “back on track” from whichever imaginary hell more powerful cabineteers than you spectrally raised to frighten the pajamas off taxpayers, Canada has become a mewling, paranoid simulacrum of its former self.

We no longer care about employment insurance recipients. We dismiss young people and educators as easily as we do environmental scientists. We can’t even care properly for our veterans of foreign wars.

Thanks to your fiscal leadership, Diamond Jim, Canada has become a meaner, tighter nation. Your policies may have saved the country from going down the road with Greece, but was that ever really the danger?

Wasn’t the real danger the encroaching degree of incivility and mistrust your buddies on the Hill did nothing to mitigate in the villages, towns and cities of a once-tolerant, open-minded, open-handed nation?

Forget the fact that Canada’s GDP has been handed over to natural resources industries. Forget the fact that public investments in science and technology serve only the status quo and, so, produce, no material or intellectual gain.

Forget all of it, Jim.

YER outta here!

Can’t say I blame you.

Can’t say I’ll miss you either, as the weather warms and the secrets of the big, wide universe are revealed just in time for your first Big-Bank interview in the corner office where black holes go to thrive.


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