Senior Liberals lashed back Wednesday at Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for a speech he gave to an Ottawa business audience in which he compared the opposition to pirates and suggested they would kill hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Ralph Goodale, deputy leader of the Liberal Party, described Mr. Flaherty's speech as being a rather "unusual performance" that turned into a bitter and partisan rant.
"The most crucial asset that a Minister of Finance has is his reputation for personal credibility," said Mr. Goodale, a former finance minister. "And that's why that ludicrous performance yesterday was so utterly counterproductive and quite frankly it was downright stupid. It was pathetic to see a minister of finance reduced to such a degrading spectacle."
Mr. Flaherty has never shied away from being critical of the Liberals but nor has he been one of his party's regular attack dogs.
Repeating a line that is increasingly being used by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he told a Canadian Club luncheon audience Tuesday that the next election campaign will present voters with a choice between a majority Conservative government and a de-facto coalition government.
"Under an Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc Québécois government, nothing would be safe nothing would be safe. ... No part of our economy would be spared. No taxpayer would avoid the hit," he said.
And later, when discussing the economic recovery following the recent global downturn, he invoked the image of pirates to describe the opposition. "We can see the harbour lights," Mr. Flaherty said. "And that's just when a would-be captain and his ragtag crew are trying to storm the bridge. If they seize the wheel, ladies and gentlemen, they'll have us on the rocks."
Mr. Goodale said the text of the speech could not have been written by any serious person in the Department of Finance. He speculated that it instead originated within the office of the Prime Minister.
The words of a finance minister, he said, are typically weighed very carefully by Canada's stock markets, in financial circles and by news media around the world. "To reduce the minister of finance to such juvenile trivia a day after Parliament resumes simply indicates that apparently this Minister of Finance has nothing serious or important to say and he's joining the bottom feeders, and that means in future there will be a discount on anything he has to say because he's degraded the currency."Report Typo/Error