Conservatives Play Catch-22 With the Opposition

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The Conservative government of Stephen Harper has presented the opposition parties with a choice: castration or being in charge during the worst recession since World War II.

The Conservatives have presented a budget which:

1) has no fiscal stimulus to help the economy;
2) gets rid of public financing for political parties, since Conservatives don't need it and the other parties do; and,
3) which forbids public sector unions to strike for 3 years while they "reform", (read, get rid of) pay equity.

Harper figures this is a no lose bet for him. If the other parties bring him down, well, they get to be in charge during the upcoming recession, which will do nothing for their popularity. If they don't bring him down, he institutionalizes the Conservative fund raising advantage and gets to break the public sector unions. Rich people and corporations love giving money to folks like Harper who keep cutting their taxes, gutting regulations and letting foreigners make them rich by buying out their firms then gutting them).

Harper's strength last election was primarily in two places: the praires and non-urban southern Ontario. Oil is going to drop below 50 dollars soon, when it does the oil sands in Alberta are going to become unprofitable and the good times in Harper's western base will end. Likewise, southern Ontario has been taking it on the chin for sometime, and no matter what happens to Detroit, that's not going to end. While Alberta will vote Conservative no matter how bad things get, the rest of the prairies are not nearly so dedicated, and southern Ontario might well remember that the Liberal party was much better for them than the Conservatives, who have refused to do anything meaningful to help Canadian manufacturing.

If the Liberals and NDP decide to do this, then, they have to be in it for the long term—they need to expect to govern for at least four years. An election in the middle of the recession will doom then, they have to put in place policies to get through the recession and out the other side, or they will be slaughtered.

If they are willing to work together, are willing to commit to stick this out for four years, then they should grasp the nettle and defeat the Tories. If they aren't, they should bite down on the bitterness and let Harper's awful economic policies doom him. Sure, they won't have a lot of money going into the next election, but if they have any brains at all, that election will be in about a year, at the bottom of the recession and odds are Harper won't be able to be reelected dog catcher at that point.

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9 Comments

The Conservatives' cynical ploy shows their weakness. They don't think they can govern successfully during a recession, so they try to palm the responsibility onto the other parties.

Yet it is their ideology which created the recession/depression.

You are totally right that Coalition talks should try for a three year time frame, or more. Any party worth its salt should govern when given the opportunity. Show us what you can do!

If the government is toppled, and if a new coalition comes together, maybe Harper and the Cons will the read the situation as you describe it.

However, right now, the Cons are looking bad, backpedaling, incoherent, and desperate.

This was not a preplanned set-up.

Why would they risk losing power; risk losing Harper as their only 'competent' leader; risk being out of office for a few years; etc.

A few weeks ago, they claimed all the momentum. Why would they throw it away?

It doesn't make sense the way you describe it.

At the most, MAYBE Harper hoped to pass the economic plan, with or without the attached cut to party funding.

But the tables have clearly turned. Harper did not expect this new outcome. Just read the hysterics on the National Post website!

Harper set a trap and got caught himself.

Sweet revenge.

Wanna bet how many senators Harper will ask the GG to appoint in the next three days?

Nice thing about governing though a recession in a coalition government is that it gives you out that "we would have done things differently but the other guys wouldn't let us"

Politians of all stripes continue their incestuous infighting, completely forgetting about Canadians that expected better.

Supposedly there are still some chances that the confidence vote may not happen - the Liberals tabled three other motions for Monday - but my instincts tell me that this may be it for Harper: his very own Joe Clark moment of gross miscalculation.

Another alternative to trying for a four-year mandate would be a limited term to respond and deal with the current crisis. Either way, I can't see anything good for the Conservatives coming out of this. Their best case scenario is bumbling through a last minute rescue via a hastily made stimulus package. It will make them look stupid either way, but losing power will make them look stupid and incompetent.

The Conservatives will either blink, or lose power.

But the opposition doesn't need to allow them to blink.

Even if the Conservatives say that they will forget about their statement entirely, they have shown that their economic instincts cannot be trusted.

I followed you over here from FDL, Ian.

It's staggering how neither the BBC nor the NY Times has picked up on this. The Times pulled their Canadian correspondent about 5 years ago. Not sure what the BBC's problem is.

So thanks for trying to let the ROTW know that exciting things are happening in Canada. Too bad they don't get it.

Oh--the Cons have pulled the elimination of public funding of parties from the statement. The other parties are saying that's not enough.

Hello, Alison. I think I also know you from FDL. You are our second Alison in these parts, and that name always means good things to us. The world needs more Alison. ;-)

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This page contains a single entry by Ian Welsh published on November 28, 2008 3:50 PM.

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