Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This bus called Coalition

It's been a pretty intense few days for Canadian politics - Stephen Harper, leading his second minority government for just six weeks may be on his way out as soon as Monday. But he won't go quietly - he's ripping up the road to stop this speeding bus called "Coalition".

Let's review. The Liberals, NDP, and Bloc have signed an agreement to form a coalition government pending the fall of the Conservative party in an upcoming non-confidence vote. The coalition would form a new cabinet, with Stephane Dion as Prime Minister, 3/4 of cabinet ministers from the Liberal party, 1/4 of cabinet ministers from the NDP, and the voting support of the Bloc. Together, they will have enough seats in Parliament to hold a majority, and such a coalition would be constitutional - each and every MP in the new coalition government was elected by Canadians.

If the coalition wants to oust Stephen Harper - the time is now. Waiting past the initial months of the government would make it increasingly difficult to bring down the government without going back to a costly election. The initial catalyst for this situation, obviously, was Stephen Harper's attempt to use the economic crisis as a guise to bankrupt the opposition parties by rescinding public funding. This act was detected by analysts and informed citizens across the board as a partisan attempt to destroy the opposition - the funds too meagre to have any real impact on the economy. At the same time, opposition parties were irked by Stephen Harper's own reluctance to react to the real economic crisis occurring in Canada and his decision to delay measures to aid Canadians this year. In the end, however, the decision to bring down the Harper government lies with the issue of trust. Harper, promising to work with opposition parties in his new mandate, did not wait long before turning around and trying to stab them where it hurts. Even as he tries to backpedal, opposition parties can be sure that forgiveness for the current government will only invite more of the same in the future.

However, Harper is not one to take his hits lying down. What are his options? He has suggested that his preference is either to parole government for Christmas break or go to a snap election (Another election? Another waste of taxpayer funds... as if the last one was not enough). In honesty, he is more likely to do the former than the latter.

But wait, wouldn't breaking Parliament for Christmas early only delay the inevitable? He will still have to face the wrath of the opposition coalition in January, right? This is where things get sneaky.

First of all, he will be running a full-scale public opinion war over Christmas. The Conservative party, flush with money in its pockets will be running their infamous TV ads, rallies, and any other kind of negative press they can get their hands off with regards to this coalition (hopefully the Liberal-NDP coalition will be able to tap into whoever the NDP were using for their election ads to counter, because those were awesome). By this point, we should all know that advertising works; and unfortunately, there is quite discrepancy in funding between the government and the opposition.

Secondly, Harper will return to Parliament with a budget. With several weeks to tweak and add to his budget (which was supposed to come out in January anyways), he will be able to produce some measures that will be popular. In that case, voting down the budget and/or the government may be unpopular. Canadians will likely not care too much about the fact that Harper is completely untrustworthy - they seem to focus on the short-term.

Thirdly, time heals all wounds. Sure, Harper makes sure to keep stabbing and biting to make new ones, but several weeks of Parliament-free (and therefore Harper-free) living may be enough to make people forget why they were mad in the first place. If that happens, the whole coalition may just fall apart, which is surely what Harper is hoping for.

What can we expect on Monday? Hopefully, a new government. Likely, Parliament sent to recess for the holidays. What can we expect in the days to come? More of Harper's famous lies. Plenty have already made it out of the starting gate:
  1. Calling the coalition "undemocratic" - pretty rich coming from the most dictatorial and least trustworthy PM of all time. In fact, Harper himself tried to form a coalition with the NDP and Bloc in 2004. Stockwell Day, then leader of the Canadian Alliance party, did the same thing in 2000. Day flat out refused the accusation that he had ever proposed teaming up with the "separatists" and dared the Bloc to provide evidence. They did.
  2. Saying that the coalition refused to sign their agreement in front of the Canadian flag because "one member" (the Bloc) did not believe in the country. In fact, there were two Canadian flags in the background.
  3. A coalition government would be at the mercy of the "separatists", and six Bloc MPs would be offered Senate positions under the new agreement. In truth, the Bloc have agreed only to support the Liberal-NDP government. While this puts them in a good position, they are not formally taking part in the government - no cabinet seats and no extra Senate positions. It's true that the Liberals and NDP would rely on the Bloc to survive, but Stephen Harper has done the same thing throughout his minority government. In fact, he relied on the support of the Bloc to pass his last two budgets, and he didn't seem quite as leery of them back then.

Don't buy into the lies. Don't buy into Stephen Harper. I'm so tired of these dirty politics. This is Canada - the True North strong and free. Not the dirty, down and under.

1 comment:

sandlot said...

I think I joined the "say no to a coalition" fb group. I would like to think this would be one way to cross of "joining in a protest" off my life goals.

Unfortunately, I'm sure others would beg to differ.