So I'll try to explain what you, the Government of Canada, can do to stop a recession from becoming a depression. So far, I've heard nothing useful from any party leader.
(Feel free to use this on the campaign trail)
* Work in co-ordination with other governments to solve the asset backed paper crisis.
*Do what it takes to keep banks from raising interest rates, as TD did last night. The banks will have to find their own way out of the crisis, rather than download it to Canadian consumers. If the banks can't get money to lend on the open market, the Bank of Canada should lend it to the chartered banks.
* Ensure this Friday's meeting of G8 Finance ministers guarantee that they will respect GATT and not seek to protect their economies by erecting tariff walls (this is what really caused the Great Depression).
* Be prepared to make EI a meaningful protection to unemployed workers. The EI premium rip-off has gone on long enough.
* Fix the Business Development Bank of Canada so it stops being a bureaucratic morass and starts funding small and medium-sized enterprises in an expedient and meaningful way, without regard to regional interests.
* Negotiate a meaningful softwood lumber deal, now that the market for lumber has tanked. It will come in handy later.
* This is the time for all of those big infrastructure projects everyone has talked about for so long: the reconstruction of the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto, the demolition and rebuilding of the Ville Marie in Montreal, making the Trans-Canada a four-lane highway across the country. Any other government capital works projects should be done now.
* There needs to be some real, co-ordinated economic planning to revive manufacturing. This includes money for innovation, easy access to capital and land, expanding high-speed Internet across the country.
* Pushing a "buy Canadian" message to consumers and to governments.
* Give kids free trades training as tool and die makers, millwrights, Class A mechanics (not technicians), plumbers, electricians, cabinet makers, and carpenters (among others). Yes, free. We have a whole generation of European-trained tradesmen retiring and a generation of burger-flippers who can't fill their shoes. Look at apprenticeship rules and get rid of some of the more ludicrous ones.
* Make the Auditor-General's Office a true management efficiency watchdog with far more power and resources to examine the bureaucracy and expose wasted resources.
* Reform bureaucracy and put it to useful work before making any drastic cuts.