Government Takeover

December 4th, 2008 by Potato

So for those who haven’t heard, we’re having a little bit of a crisis of faith in our government here in the great white north. We just had an election, which returned Harper with a “strengthened minority” — but a minority nonetheless. There was no “message from Canadians” — our ballots are not that detailed. Nonetheless, I’ve seen Con pundits all over say that Harper has a “mandate” from Canadians and that the opposition parties attempting to form a coalition to govern in his place is “undemocratic”.

Of course, it’s nothing of the sort — the majority of people voted against Harper. He spent years trying to self-destruct parliament with brinksmanship and confidence measures. The message from Canadian voters if anything was “you can’t rule as though you had a majority; here’s another minority now go play nice with the other parties.” Then the first thing he does when he gets back is introduce a partisan fiscal update (that takes away a source of funding for smaller parties) and made it a confidence measure to try to bully it through (oh, it also takes away the right for public sector workers to strike and the right for women to sue for pay equity). So the opposition has indicated that it is prepared to call his bluff, and he throws a hissy fit and threatens to shutter parliament for over a month. Or, as explained over at Whatever by Leila:

“Stephen Harper is not being removed because he proposed to eliminate the $1.95/vote, although that was an underhanded tactic intended to cripple the opposition parties. He withdrew that proposition […] Stephen Harper is being removed because he seems to think that 143 seats and 37.6% of the popular vote is a mandate from Canadians to do whatever the hell he pleases. He has a minority government. As such, it is his responsibility to cooperate with the opposition parties. He refuses to do so. “

Yes, in the midst of the worst economic turmoil in a generation, he wants our government and our leaders to go take a little vacation. Maybe spending more and having economic stimuli and bailouts won’t save us. Maybe it will just create more government debt and make the hole even harder to dig out of — but he’s not even willing to discuss the issue. At a time when the worldwide markets are facing a crisis of confidence, Harper wants to show Canadians that the government is not just asleep at the wheel, it’s not even at the helm!

On top of all this has been the Harper-Flaherty boondoggle of the last few years: lying to Canadians (income trusts, the prospect of a deficit), fiscal mismanagement, politicizing everything, including the safety issues of an ageing nuclear reactor, and breaking their own fixed election date legislation because they were so desperate to get an election in ahead of this turmoil that they’ve long known was coming (but did nothing about).

In a word, the Cons have lost the confidence of parliament, and of Canadians. Having the other parties work together to come to a compromise position that everyone can agree to is democratic, and it’s how our system is supposed to work with minority governments.

Now, my dad is in a bit of a huff over all this — he doesn’t care who ends up in power, but we need some stability to restore confidence in the markets. The Bloc is going to support a coalition for 18 months, so that might be enough, whereas a continued Harper government could be back here again in a week (assuming it is allowed to carry on by some back-pedalling and compromising by the PM) because of just how unstable those personalities are. The market has been burned by Flaherty before: the surprise income trust tax, and two rounds of buying mortgages from banks (not quite a bailout, but close) when the banks didn’t really seem to need it (which actually hurt confidence a bit). Because of that, on a per capita basis, the bailouts in Canada have been almost as large as the ones in the States, and we’re just getting going with this party.

Some perspective is, of course, required. This is not really a “takeover” or a “crisis” — tanks are not going to roll up parliament hill. The MP you elected is still your representative in parliament. All that’s changed is that the majority of ABC MPs have decided to cooperate since the Cons won’t. It’s been pointed out that Stephan Dion and the Liberals will probably take a drubbing in the next election over this — 18 months away, if the Bloc are to be believed — and that’s probably true. For that reason I have to respect the man. He’s willing to take the hit to his own reputation and long-term outlook in order to step up and do what is right for Canada now. Hopefully the coalition will manage to fix the economy (and our environmental plan at the same time) and turn it around within the next year and a half and they’ll be vindicated. If not, at the very least the next Con government we face won’t have Harper (and hopefully not Flaherty either) at the helm; hopefully it’ll be a Progressive Conservative rather than a Reform/Con man.

6 Responses to “Government Takeover”

  1. Ben Says:

    I was just thinking at work today, while powerwashing floors for 8 hours (red wine stains concrete something awful), Potato’s been pretty quiet on this whole political debacle. I’ve been following it closely online from down south, and I have to agree with everything you’ve said. It just really pisses me off that Harper and his media henchmen can get away with continually and deliberately LYING! Just outright lying to the public! It’s like the George Bush mentality, “if I repeat it enough, it’ll become true (or at least people will think it’s true”. To say that what’s going on is undemocratic and unconstitutional and tantamount to a coup d’état is just completely false! I don’t know what the radio/TV newsmedia has been reporting, but they should be calling him on this every time, “…And that was Stephen Harper in the House of Commons this morning. We just want to remind all of our viewers that a coalition government, under these circumstances, is completely democratic in accordance with our system of parliamentary democracy, quite contrary to what Mr. Harper said. We’re not in favour of it one way or another, those are simply the facts.” Unfortunately most newsmedia isn’t really about facts anymore…

  2. Ben Says:

    What do you know, someone did call him on it:

  3. Potato Says:

    Well, the GG decided to put up the “gone fishin'” sign so Harper could start campaigning now for the next election which will likely come in March unless the GG decides to give the coalition a shot in January (assuming they can avoid self-destructing by then, and that Harper doesn’t make a contrite about-face to start cooperating). So, expect the dirty Cons to once again crank up the taxpayer-funded electioneering with 10-percenters, “information mailings”, and the rest of the gamut.

  4. Potato Says:

    As an aside, Wayfare commented when watching Dion’s remarks “what is he on, a webcam?” and I thought the same thing. The lack of quality in his video was apparent even when watching it streaming on the CBC website later. That video quality issue in a number of news reports on the matter. It really seemed to bother a lot of people. This was of course unprofessional, but is not grounds to decide who should lead the country, IMHO.

  5. nancy (aka money coach) Says:

    Part of it was women cannot sue for equity pay? I missed that piece of it. I swear I’ll *lunge* at the man if he’s ever in Vancouver.

  6. Potato Says:

    That was how I heard it phrased originally. Looking deeper it’s that pay equity would no longer be a “discrimiation” matter that would go before the human rights commission. Presumably one could still sue civilly. Still, a pretty thuggish move from a guy that doesn’t have a great image with women to begin with.