Monday, May 16, 2005

Absence does not make the heart grow fonder (and my Red Tory conspiracy theory!)

He's back! Two weeks away in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong have refreshed my brain, accustomed me to tropical climes, and given me an unhealthy obsession with char kway teow (Malaysian stir-fried broad rice noodles with seafood).

Although I checked my email periodically while I was away, I only checked Canadian news sites to see if the government had fallen yet. It tends to do that when I leave home, but this time, it kept plodding along, such as it is. So I'm back in town in time to watch the budget vote.

A quick check through the archived entries of my preferred news sites and a few bloggers/columnists (thank-you Paul Wells, Chantal Hebert, Adam Radwanski, and CalgaryGrit) over the past two weeks shows me that there has been no useful movement in the House of Commons fiasco. Honestly, I don't know how daily followers of the saga can keep it up. Reading it all at once, it's hard not to find it all profoundly and insanely navel-gazingly pathetic and boring.

Reading between the blaring election fever headlines, I see that this country is now well on the way to a national child care program. Of course, one of the first major new national social policy initiatives since the early 1970s is getting buried by Parliament hi-jinks, which is a tragedy. Bill C-38 passed second reading (and will likely now fail to be enacted, despite having the necessary support in parliament). There is a same-sex marriage court challenge in New Brunswick (which actually started just before I left here), which is good news for me, as I'm likely moving to that province in the fall, and would like to have my marriage recognized there. Apparently there is also a major foreign policy reform underway, but nobody seems to care much about this development either.

On the CBC this morning, it appears that David Kilgour thinks that an election is needed to provide a clear consensus on what the Canadian people want. In theory, he's probably right, as the government is adrift. But I for one fail to believe that an election held right now would produce a Parliament substantially different from what we have right now. My predictions from a few weeks ago hold. The Bloc will pick up a few more seats, but fewer than some columnists believe (the Outaouais and the West island aren't going to change), the Conservatives might pick up a few more seats in Ontario, but they're maxed out right now in the West, and if anything, might lose some seats there to the NDP. The NDP could pick up a few more seats, particularly in Saskatchewan, BC and Ontario. All in all, a June 2005 election will likely produce the same pizza parliament, the same instability, and another election in less than two more years.

Who stands to win from this scenario? Peter McKay and Belinda Stronach.

Paul Martin will continue to be useless in another minority government, and the Liberals will try to replace him, but find few contenders, given his supporters' effective putsch of all other talented aspirants from the party over the past several years. The current Cabinet is largely filled with the charisma-free, and there doesn't seem to be a great number of provincial heirs to the throne. As for the Conservatives, failure to win a majority will sign Stephen Harper's death warrant. They don't support losers there. This positions Nova Scotia's dauphin and his beautiful Ontario Red Tory partner quite nicely for a takeover of the party, and the return of the Conservative party of old.

Hmmm... maybe it's just the effects of jet lag on my addled brain, but maybe this is all part of a secret plot by the old Tory wing of the party to finally kill Reform, and they are skillfully playing on Stephen Harper's ambition to force an election in which he won't be able to win a majority. Maybe an election would not be such a bad thing after all, pointless as it will be in the short term...

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