Friday, March 25, 2011

Harper Government Takes a Dive

Stephen Harper, Canadian politicianImage via WikipediaAh, the joys of Parliamentary Democracy where the credo has allways been this; "He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day."

That is to say, nobody was surprised at the outcome of the non-confidence vote, least of all "The Harper Government." As I watched the kabuki dance that is the public portion of the sausage-making live-streamed by the CBC and annotated with twitter feeds, I marveled at how unsurprised all the commenters were, and indeed, how very polished the performances were, and how little the new media altered the message.

On my way to the House of Commons, where I will move non-confidence in the Harper regime. Enough is enough. #cdnpoli #lpc

I missed Harper's moment in the scrum, but he took no questions, I suspect he felt they were asked and answered, and while it would likely be truthful to say that yes, he does hold Parliament in contempt, it would be impolitic and impolite to say that out loud. I think the picture smirks for itself.

I'm not saying that he has any more contempt for Parliament than, say, Brian Mulroney or Pierre Elliot Trudeau. In this particular case, the consensus seems to be that he crafted a budget that was intended to force a non-confidence vote at this time. It's an interesting strategy, if true, and I suppose is rather in the tradition of Proroguing Parliament to adjust the legislative agenda and remind his colleagues who's gavel is the biggest.

An election call is never met with hosannas, and this way, all the annoyance will be directed at the Liberal leader, Mr. Ignatieff. Beware, Sir! Its a tra... oh dear.

I confess I doubt the wisdom of it, but Mr. Harper's approach to parliamentary politics is as unique as his collegial regard for the loyal members of the various oppositions is noted, particularly in the rather conspicuously contra-factual & American tone of the Anti-Ignatieff propaganda coming from the Harper people for some time now.  Red-drenched graphics appear any time it looks like Michael Ignatieff might assemble a coalition, trying to make him look like a cross between Karl Marx and Osama Bin Ladin. I'm sure this slight annoys and/or amuses Jack Layton, the NDP leader, who, in his speech after the non-confidence vote, emphasized that the NDP would have been quite willing to compromise, had Harper made that possible, and leaving the unmistakable impression that the NDP is Open for Business. Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québécois, was entirely unembarrassed to state that the position of the Bloc is "What's in it for us?" 

So the Bloc is open for business too.

But for some reason, Coalition seems to be the C word of Liberal Politics. I suppose that I can understand the reluctance of the Liberals to settle for being the majority in a coalition of minorities, leading to what would be in effect yet another minority government, with no coherent governing philosophy. Though, this IS the Liberal Party of Canada we are speaking of, and such an objection has never been evident before.

Anyway, this seems to be the opening of the usual reality-show chess-match. Harper is hoping this to result in a non-confidence vote by the Canadian public against the Liberals, the Bloc, the NDP and the Greens, resulting in his first majority government.

Meanwhile, Ignatieff put on a credible show that he is seeking to win a majority Liberal mandate.  This point was not terribly well emphasized by his shadow cabinet which had the look of a herd of deer caught in the headlights of a two lane log-truck convoy. Well, you go to war with the party you have, not the party you might wish to have, and while you may have thought, if you weren't listening closely, that he'd ruled out a Coalition, many rather annoyed reporters noted that he'd done a Texas Sidestep on that point. Ah, the things you learn at Harvard. The academic politics there must be particularly challenging.
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