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Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable (Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)
Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable (Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)

Doug Finley

Europe needs to take responsibility for its own mistakes Add to ...

As a nation, Canada has never been shy about standing up for allies and countries in need when they could not help themselves – we have the scars of two world wars and numerous other conflicts to prove that. We’ve always punched above our weight. There has been no country more generous, on a per capita basis, than Canada toward any nation needing a hand up. But bailing out high-spending European welfare states is beyond the pale .

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This week, a Canadian journalist asked a timely, valid question of the European Commissioner. Why should Canada help bail out one of the wealthiest regions in the world? In typically arrogant fashion, José Manuel Barroso scolded Canada by saying the global financial crisis originated in North America. He has unfairly lumped Canada in with the United States, failing to note that our banking sector is one of the strongest in the world.

How could Europe have known that irresponsible welfare states with endless regulations, high taxes and bloated bureaucracies would lead to bankruptcy? And their solution: curing a debt crisis by increasing their debts. If Europe isn’t prepared to get its financial situation in order, then let’s see how far Europe will push itself against a wall, until they implement the necessary economic measures.

As Neil Reynolds put it recently in The Globe and Mail, “democracies can’t live in perpetual stimulus.” European welfare states have had years to get their act together, yet have refused to make any tough decisions. Spain recently broke its pledge to the EU to reduce its deficit to 4.4 per cent of GDP by 2012, settling instead for 5.3 per cent of GDP.

Margaret Thatcher once said “the problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Having already drained their own coffers, Europeans are now looking to burn through Canadian taxpayer’s money too. We should not be on the hook for the lavish spending habits of Europe.

The mere thought of austerity has led to general strikes in Europe. The culture of entitlement will not end, if the Germans, Canadians and others are willing to pay to continue it. What little austerity measures the Europeans have implemented have usually consisted of more tax increases than spending cuts – and they wonder why they aren’t working.

It was a big-government approach that spent European welfare states into massive debt in the first place, while they have taxed and regulated away any chance of serious economic growth. This is a vicious circle.

Canada is in the enviable position we are in because of the strong fiscal leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. We have made the tough decisions and we will continue to make them. We have reduced spending, cut taxes and promoted economic growth – a model that Europe should look toward. Bailing out Europe, as French citoyen Thomas Mulcair has suggested, will merely put us in the position of the frog in the fable of The Scorpion and the Frog.

While Canada has made the decision to respond to changing demographics by delaying Old Age Security payments to age 67 to ensure long-term viability, France recently made the irresponsible, ideological decision to decrease their retirement age to 60. Yet they expect hardworking Canadians to pay for early retirement packages for Europeans?

Europe has behaved like an irresponsible teenager who had a credit card with no limits for decades. Europeans now expect other countries to bail them out, so they can continue their care-free ways. It is time that the global economy taught them a lesson: They need to get their own houses in order by cutting spending, ending overregulation, lowering taxation and eliminating their debts. Doing this will get their economies moving again and put them on the right fiscal track.

This crisis has proven, once again, that the excesses and policies of socialism do not work. Socialism has continually proven itself to be a failed ideology. Perhaps this is something that Mr. Mulcair and the NDP should take heed of as well.

Senator Doug Finley ran the Conservative Party of Canada’s election campaigns in 2006 and 2008

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