Canada’s Conservatives Play Catch-22 With the Opposition
While Americans are enjoying their tryptophan comas, up in the Great White North, 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 moving the jobs and headquarters to other countries.
Harper’s strength last election was primarily in two places: the prairies 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.