Never was a big fan of John McCallum… It had nothing to do with his performance as a minister in previous Liberal governments or due to any particular political gaffe he committed as the Defense Minister (a strange posting for an economist to begin with) nor any of the other posts he held.
I just didn’t like his persona on television interviews. Might sound trivial but unless you are a so called political junkie, regularly watching CPAC or spending your time digging through news releases and Wikipedia listings, the only impression that the average Canadian can form about their politicians is how they handle interviews on the evening news. McCallum at best seemed professorially boring, way too polite and well, in over his head at least in the political arena.
Although most of that could probably be attributed to his academic background (professor of economics at a string of Canadian universities from 1976 to 1994) and a short stint in the corporate world (Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the RBC), before he decided to became a professional politician. Really not one of your rolled up shirt sleeved, man of the people, type of politicians, though. However, when you delve a bit deeper into McCallum’s history you see that he was also socially progressive with a strong nationalistic view of the country (debating with Parizeau back in his days as a McGill professor, about national unity). .
With the recession now being on the front burner and a new confidence being displayed by the Liberals under Ignatieff, McCallum is starting to gain some strength in his parliamentary voice, painting the conservatives into ownership of this mess.
Noting that January’s job losses were three times worse than predicted, Liberal finance critic John McCallum reminded the House that the prime minister assured us mere months ago that if Canada were facing a recession we would already have had it.
He is also being placed to front of the pack and becoming the Liberal's voice on the economy.
Stephen Harper consistently told Canadians they would have a surplus as late as the November 27th economic update,” he said. And yet here we are – our starting point going into this recession is a $13-billion deficit. This government was headed into the red but was not upfront with Canadians. These political games have simply got to stop. They’ve got to start thinking about the people – protecting their jobs, their savings and Canada’s future prosperity, McCallum said.
And just as important for us average Canadians, McCallum is also gaining some confidence before the cameras. When asked by Robert Fife on the CTV National, about Harper dropping the Cadman suit, McCallum stuck to the party line that it was now behind us, but his grin and then smirk said it all.
All in, it is a good thing that McCallum is starting to get his act together, the country needs to have confidence in it's finance minister and since the Liberals have to best chance to become the next minority government, McCallum's role will be the most important.
But then again Flaherty has not set the bar too high.