Saturday, November 29, 2008

I wish the grown-ups were in charge

The Liberals and NDP are threatening to bring down the Harper government and form a coalition, ostensibly due to inaction on an economic stimulus package, but it might also have something to do with a Tory plan to end a government subsidy paid to the parties for every vote they earn (with the Liberals with in debt, and the Conservatives possessing a formidable fundraising machine, this is a serious threat).


It looks like Harper intentionally provoked the opposition just to see what they would do, and that they've fallen into the trap, so to speak (though his delaying of the confidence vote for a week may indicate some apprehension). If they backtrack now without any concessions from Harper, they'll just look ridiculous. But the way things are looking right now, it's very possible that Stephane Dion will be PM in a couple weeks time. The key question is whether the Liberals and NDP are serious about this or are just stamping their feet over losing their badly needed public funding. And also what the Bloc will do and what incentives the other parties will need to offer them for their support.

The opposition has undertaken an extremely risky strategy here. On the face of it, there is nothing inherently wrong with forming a coalition government. It is commonplace in other parliamentary democracies. Nor is it somehow "undemocratic", as that jerkoff Ezra Levant was arguing yesterday on Newsnet, as 63% of Canadians did not vote for Harper and the Tories, yet they form our government nevertheless.

But it all depends how this is framed. The Liberals and NDP desperately want this to be about the economy and inaction on the part of Harper and Flaherty towards a stimulus package. This argument is not entirely without merit, but it's more than a little suspect that this coincided with the move to remove the public funding subsidy. The Tories have a huge advantage in fundraising, while the Liberals and NDP are in debt. If the public sees this as nothing more than a naked attempt by the opposition to keep their public funding (meaning millions of taxpayer dollars), this could backfire in a big way.

On the other hand, this may be the best way to look at it:

If you're just tunning in now...'s what you've missed:

Tories want to destroy the opposition! Bring it on! Another election?Another election! Coalition government! Prime Minister Dion? A Liberal coup? Prime Minister Layton? Prime Minister Goodale? Harper blinks - election averted! Election on? Coalition on? Prime Minister Chretien? And Ed Broadbent? Je ne comprends pas anglais. Liberal non-confidence motion! WHAT THE @#&! IS GOING ON HERE??!!?!?!?

UPDATE: Harper delays the confidence vote until December 8th! What does it all mean? WHO THE HELL KNOWS! Let's just sit back and enjoy the ride!

Our politics are getting pretty crazy.

UPDATE: Looks like Harper wants to keep his job after all.

After 24 hours of peering into a yawning political abyss, the Harper
government stepped back from the brink Saturday, dropping a plan to kill public
subsidies for political parties.

"When it comes to the funding and subsidies that political parties get,
we just don't think it's worth getting into an election on that issue,"
Transport Minister John Baird said in an interview.

"We won't be proceeding."

I guess Italy gets to keep its dubious honour of being the most disfunctional Western democracy. For now.

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