It goes against every ideological bone in his body. An economist by education if not employment, Stephen Harper has an avowed belief in deploying widespread tax relief and letting free enterprise pick the winners and losers.
But the Prime Minister sounds like he's clearing his throat to sing the bailout blues very, very soon. He'll be handing out billions to prop up three chronically inefficient, unresponsive and perhaps unsustainable car manufacturing companies, a salvage operation that sources hint could roll out before Christmas.
With a wince in his voice -- although that might have been because the Peter Mansbridge interview was conducted inside CBC studios he views as akin to hell--Mr. Harper tried to clarify his government's position on handouts for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler on Tuesday.
Action will be taken, he vowed. The deal hammered out in Washington, D. C., is being watched closely and Canada will copy the U. S. moves to prevent competitive disadvantages from crossing the border, he added.
He even admitted the auto-sector bailout was so urgent, it couldn't wait until his prorogued Commons returns, although the "big stuff " won't be released until the Jan. 27, 2009, budget. Huh? A requested bailout from the Shrinking Three manufacturers estimated at roughly $6-billion isn't "big"? Gosh. Can you say $30-billion deficit?