The Canadian government could fall one week from today. Harper has cancelled the Monday opposition day and the ways and means fiscal update vote, so it’s next monday we’re looking at.
This would result either in a new election less than two months after the last or a Liberal-NDP government relying on the support of the Bloc Quebecios.
Harper is said to be to blame for this. Have you noticed that he has comprehensively backed down? The parties which are so dependent on taxpayer funds that democracy is threatened if it is removed from them even in hard economic times have nothing to worry about on that score. The Tories have also reversed their intent to ban federal public-sector strikes for three years. So that was the knock right? That Harper was risking a $300 million dollar election over $30 million in savings that the opposition could not be expected to swallow? But now a $300 million election is threatened without any savings at stake – unless the Governor General chooses to ask Stephane Dion to form a government.
The opposition now say that this is about the stimulus policy of the Conservatives which besides billions already put into credit markets – in a country with one of the soundest banking systems in the world – is not immediately at hand but will be in the January budget which is already bumped a month ahead. At the time of the election the Economist had this to say:
And yet, in a sinking world, Canada is something of a cork. Its well-regulated banks are solid. Growth has slowed but not stopped. The big worry is the fear that an American recession will drag Canada down with it.
Mr Harper says, rightly enough, that his government has taken prudent measures to help Canada weather a storm it cannot duck: he has offered tax cuts and selective aid to help vulnerable manufacturing towns. But it is his seeming non-reaction to what is so far a non-crisis that looks likely to deny him the majority he was seeking, and could even let in the opposition. In what is the first credit-crunch election in a big Western country, Mr Harper’s ejection would set a dispiriting precedent that panic plays better politically than prudence.
This message would be an amplified one in the event of the toppling of Harper’s government on the same score. For the opposition not to grasp this suggests that they are now the ones putting partisanship first.
More important than the stability and credibility of the government is to the economy is the effect on Canadian politics of a Bloc supported coalition that anyone thinking as a statesman would recognize.
In the last election no party really had a chance at a majority because the separatist Bloc Quebecios are as strong as they are. Norman Spector suggested the government add seats to other provinces so that Quebec would have to choose a federal party if they wanted to be involved in the government. What do you think it does for the long term prospects of federal parties in Quebec if the Bloc get a nice deal for them out of this? Are you so convinced that Harper must go that you are willing to see the impetus to vote for federal parties emasculated in Quebec – possibly for a generation? Do you really put ideology before country?