Friday, November 28, 2008

May you live in interesting times...

Well, PM Stephen Harper certainly excels at setting traps for himself. I'd never have guessed that we'd be on the brink of a Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition government this weekend, but we may well have one in time for Christmas:
Negotiations by Opposition parties to form a coalition began hours after the Harper government failed to introduce an economic stimulus package in its annual economic and fiscal update yesterday.

Instead, Harper proposed billions in spending cuts, the suspension of the right of public servants to strike, pay equity changes, and a small but significant reduction of public funding for political parties.
I think there are lots of good reasons here to bring down the government, but the public funding for political parties issue is probably the spark that lit this fire. (Each party annually receives $1.95 for each vote it received in the last election, which was implemented to lessen the impact of wealthy donors being able to disproportionately influence political parties, along with corporations and unions. The much larger indirect subsidy comes in the form of tax credits for people who donate directly to the parties.)

This proposal concerning party funding was bizarrely attached to the Harper government's otherwise Harrisite "fiscal update" (spending cuts? compounding a recession?), in what can only be seen as a naked attempt to harm the finances of the opposition parties, if not cause their outright bankruptcy. That this comes during an unprecedented global economic crisis when compromise and consensus are warranted in Parliament is despiscable. I don't think Canadians are terribly interested in Harper's game, but are at least a bit concerned with the tanking stockmarket and the looming collapse of the auto sector, to name only two things. In this regard, I do think the opposition is more in tune with "average" Canadians (i.e., though who aren't political junkie who live for Harper's games of chess). Instead, Harper's playing chicken with the fate of his own government:
Angered over the lack of an overarching spending package to kickstart the sluggish economy, the Opposition parties cried foul.

Now the Liberals say they will introduce a motion of non-confidence in the government.

NDP Leader Jack Layton and Stephane Dion have discussed "roles and responsibilities” in a new coalition, an NDP official confirmed.

It is expected that Layton would have a place in the new cabinet, and “various players would play different roles,” the official said.

Liberal finance critic John McCallum said a new government would roll out a stimulus package that was "a whole lot faster and a whole lot bigger than anything they would provide.”
Anyway, I'm not sure whether Dion would be the leader of this still-hypothetical coalition. It's a possibility, but since the confidence vote has been postponed (by Harper, a sure sign that he's attempting to buy time for some sort of last ditch attempt to save his government), I expect the Liberals will have sufficient time to figure out their leadership issues, at least temporarily, so that we'll soon be treated to the spectacle of a joint Liberal-NDP cabinet with tacit Bloc support. Interesting times, to be sure!


Ladyjutea said...

Is this not every episode of Care Bears ever? (Except maybe the Christmas ones.) Liberals are the Care Bears and the NDP are the Care Bear Cousins. Bloc? I dunno.

And you know who No Heart is.

Josh said...

But who's Shrieky? And Beastly? I think Jim Flaherty could fill the latter role.

Ladyjutea said...

Well, I don't know about Shrieky (some shrill vociferous Conservative?), but I've thought of who the Bloc might be.


It's Grumpy Bear!