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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Calm down, the update will pass

Seriously people this is all posturing. There is no way that the fiscal update will fail.

First of all the Liberals don’t want to share power with the NDP. There has never been a coalition government in this country and there is a reason for that. The political culture of Canada simply wouldn’t accept it. The Liberals will face a huge backlash in the next election. Besides, who would be the Prime Minister is a real question in this scenario. It can’t be Dion; his own party wouldn’t back them. It can’t be Layton; the Liberals simply wouldn’t give him that legitimacy. So who? Some compromise candidate? In the middle of an economic crisis the Prime Minister will not be the leader of a party? How stable will this be, especially with the Liberal leadership race still taking place?

Second of all they don’t really want an election. This would be the only other option to a coalition government. They jumped up and down on Harper for calling an election early. How could they sell another election, just six weeks later? It would be the shortest Parliament in Canadian history, and for what reason? What can they tell the Canadian people? They are taking away our subsidy? They are waiting a few months to put together a stimulus package?

So all this is just a negotiation position; the only question is what either side will give up.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on November 27, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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I think you're absolutely correct Hugh, it's just one big game of chicken.

The other outstanding question is who will back down and vote yes on Monday. It won't be the NDP, and it may well be the BQ, but most likely it'll be the Liberals who end up folding first.

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-11-27 10:03:21 PM

My money would be on the Liberals

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2008-11-27 10:05:54 PM

Problem is, when things get so tense and people are really angry, misjudgements happen. The Liberals are in a fury of impotence and humiliation(just listen to Goodale, McCallum and Rae) and in that state they won't be thinking straight. Ignatieff is the biggest opportunist to come onto the Canadian political stage in a generation, and he'll want to seize power if at all possible. Duceppe is just plain nuts, and sees the writing on the wall about public funding. And Jack Layton is, as he was in the election, drinking his own Kool-Aid. Anything can happen. Games of Chicken can go disastrously wrong. It may come down to what Michelle Jean is prepared to do. She could turf the Conservatives after a confidence vote loss and ask Dion to have a go, but that would last a few weeks at best. She could also ask Harper to try to form a coalition----a National Government in a time of crisis. Or she could force an election rather than be seen to make the terrible choice.

Whatever games the Liberals and the crazies in the Opposition parties play, I predict that Canadians will slaughter those who force an election. Spinning it the way Dion is now: "it's up to the PM to back down" ain't going to cut any ice at all with voters.

Harper and Flaherty are taking the prudent course. The party funding issue is a minor one, and is unassailable. The vast majority of voters will cheer such a move. And all the Tories have to say is: "if we can raise the funds, so can you", and the public will agree.

Posted by: Patrick B | 2008-11-27 10:35:26 PM

I think all four opposition parties would be content to vote no confidence Monday if the Conservatives insist the election subsidy be scrapped.

I believe Harper would suffer negative fallout by making a previously unannounced and unmandated policy decision to cancel the Party subsidy and then make it a confidence motion. In 6 weeks, our economy will look much worse. The Governor-General may not accept a new election but instead give it over the Dion if he can show in writing that the Bloc, NDP will support him.

Trudeau resigned as leader in 1979 but the Clark Minority was defeated and Trudeau went on to win the election in Feb. 1980.

Presuming that Harper would win an election in 6 weeks is unfounded. An election over the Economic Update is foolishness.

Posted by: Marc Scott Emery | 2008-11-27 10:40:44 PM

"Trudeau resigned as leader in 1979 but the Clark Minority was defeated and Trudeau went on to win the election in Feb. 1980."

You make that sound like it is a good thing. The NEP started when Pierre the Terrible (curse his name) came back. Nuff said.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-27 10:56:48 PM

Seems like a good time for the Conservatives to shove through whatever they want knowing everyone will have to vote for it.

Posted by: Pete | 2008-11-27 11:22:34 PM


I don't see how anyone can claim with a straight face that cutting the party subsidy has anything to do with the economic crisis. If the $30 million in savings is really going to save the Canadian economy, I would really question Mr. Harper's decision to call an election that cost much more than that this fall. It's all well and good to ask politicans to make financial sacrifices during this crisis like the rest of it, but demanding sacrifices that give your own party a competitive edge over its opponents is pretty clearly a partisan attack. I am especially cynical when these changes come right after the Conservatives decided to grow the size and cost of government bureaucracy with a larger cabinet.

Removing the subsidy to political parties might be justifiable on its own merits if it was coupled with removing the restrictions on donations from corporations and unions, restrictions which I doubt you as a libertarian support. On its own though, these cuts only serve to further restrict the means by which political parties can finance their campaigns. At least with a per-vote subsidy political parties are financially rewarded for convincing Canadians that they have good ideas.

If political parties didn't need some sort of funding, why not lower the maximum donation for individuals to $1.00 each? Or $0.01? Those numbers are no less arbitrary than the model that the Conservatives are putting forward.

Campaigns are expensive, and canidates need to be able to find external sources of funding to offset these costs. If candidates are forced to finance their campaigns exclusively out of their own pockets, then the only candidates those sufficiently wealthy to not care about tens of thousands they'll have to shell out, or perhaps those who see an opportunity to financial profit from selling their influence later.

Regardless of any of the merits of changing campaign finance laws and funding structures, the reality is that there's something more important for the government to be dealing with right now: the economy. If the Conservatives cared about Canada instead of their own partisan interests, they'd focus on that rather than trying to strike a death-blow to the Liberals while the opposition is weak and the populace distracted.

If you want my bet on which opposition party is most likely to blink, it's the NDP. They have the least to lose financial of the four parties, and I think Jack Layton would do just about anything if he thought it would lead to the NDP replacing the Liberals as the dominant left-of-centre party. Just look at their stance on the Greens in the debates. Personally, I hope it's the goverment that withdraws this proposal though. We don't need this political instability right now, and it's source is the Tories. They're the only ones who can chose whether or not campaign finance reform is on the agenda, and for everybody's sake I hope it's left for later.

Posted by: Ryan Campbell | 2008-11-28 12:55:37 AM

Ryan I admit that this has little to do with the economic crisis. I expect that this would have been done no matter what shape the economy is in. I agree with you that this may just be a cynical move on the part of Harper, or it could be a principled stand. Either way I don't really care, its a good policy.

The complaint that the Liberals aren't as good at mass fundraising and so should be given a subsidy does not hold much water. They should make the appropiate changes and become better. They don't have a golden democratic right to the government's money. If they can't compete they will lose, that is the reality of the universe.

I don't think it is fair to say that Harper doesn't care about the economy or that he is putting Party first based on this. There is nothing that he is doing that will hurt the economy.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2008-11-28 8:38:53 AM

There is nothing that he is doing that will hurt the economy.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 28-Nov-08 8:38:53 AM

Oh I don't know Hugh...
Harper said last week the he "now understands that Canada will have to spend its way out of a recession".
That whole concept is likely to sink what's left of our dollar. Even with the Fiscal Update (FU for short)Throwing more inflation at the inflation problem doesn't seem to make much sense.

Posted by: JC | 2008-11-28 9:19:15 AM

Sorry JC I might have missed something. I was under the impression that there was no new spending in this Fiscal Update. There may be during the budget, actually they are basically promising that there would be in the next budget. But I haven't heard anything objectionable in the 'FU'

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2008-11-28 9:31:00 AM

Calm down? This is just staring to get interesting! From CTV:

"Chretien, Broadbent brokering coalition deal"

"Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien and NDP stalwart Ed Broadbent are working behind the scenes to broker a deal that could see the two parties form a coalition, CTV News has learned.

"Under this deal the Liberals would form the government, the NDP would sit in it with cabinet seats and the Bloc Quebecois would support this new NDP-Liberal coalition from outside the government. Liberal MP Michael Ignatieff is the most likely choice to lead the coalition."


Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-11-28 10:15:38 AM

The introduction of the old 'statesmen' certainly make this interesting. Choicing Ignatieff without a leadership race may do long term harm to the Liberals, however. If you strip the membership of their ability to pick a leader it'll anger a lot of them. Especially the factions that hate Iggy

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2008-11-28 10:49:42 AM

What else was on your sure-bet list while we're at it?

Posted by: Steve | 2008-12-02 9:04:47 AM

Heh, Steve I assure you the Leafs will win the cup.

Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2008-12-02 9:49:10 AM

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