Stéphane Dion, the Liberal Leader, has been visibly energized by his attacks on Stephen Harper's dispassionate response to the international financial crisis, but his new confidence does not conceal the fact that none of Canada's party leaders were prepared for the present predicament.
Much as Tuesday's Conservative platform speaks vaguely of “uncertain times,” the two-week-old Liberal platform speaks of “a time of economic downturn around the world.”
Mr. Dion's economic action plan, issued on Tuesday, is quite sensible, but consists of little more than promptness in seeking the advice of leading regulators, economists and the government's own Department of Finance and in obtaining the co-operation of provincial and territorial premiers. A prime minister of any party would doubtless do likewise.
Financial regulation usually seems too arcane for widespread public discussion, but the Western world has been living in an economy dependent on a complex web of credit and leveraged transactions for three centuries. Crisis in financial markets is always a contingency to be prepared for.
Various options – recapitalization of banks, government purchase of unmarketable assets, additional lending by the central banks to chartered banks (“liquidity injection”), extension of bank-like regulation to bank-like enterprises, etc. – are not easy to choose among, but the range of choices is no great mystery.