Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Harper Majority

About two years ago, everyone was up in arms because Paul Martin's minority government was trying to govern as if it had a majority - and this was called Liberal arrogance. Right now, Stephen Harper's government is doing the same thing, and this is referred to as Stephane Dion's Liberal weakness. Funny how you can spin the same arrogance in two different ways - and it certainly is arrogance in both cases.

I am extremely disappointed in the current functioning of Parliament, and I suspect that with every passing week, "potential" support for the Liberals will quietly bleed away. I am not talking about the 25-30% of Canadians who will likely vote Liberal regardless of leader, policy, or platform. I am thinking about swing voters who are currently parking their vote with the Conservatives, NDP, Green or Bloc parties, but who might be convinced to vote Liberal, given a viable reason to do so. Right now the Liberals appear gutless. Dion's rhetoric about "making a minority Parliament" work is extremely hollow when it is clear that Harper has no intention of allowing any amendments to his bills, or accepting any input from the opposition parties. Setting up all of his legislation as matters of confidence is a clear indication that he wants to govern as if he has a majority, or head to the polls. The Liberals have rolled over and exposed their vulnerable bellies, and all the rhetoric in the world about "Canadians don't want an election" is not masking that.

Here's a idea - although I doubt it can be implemented. Rather than simply abstaining from vote after vote, the Liberals should pick one of the more egregious pieces of Conservative legislation and propose a whopper of a set of amendments which indicate a bold series of new initiatives. Try to amend the Omnibus Crime Bill to reflect a Liberal vision on this issue. Try to amend yesterday's financial package to replace the GST cut with an additional 2% cut on personal income tax - or spending of $10 billion on the start of a high-speed VIA rail system in the Quebec-Windsor corridor - or some other policy initiative that the Liberals want to highlight and advance.

This approach would let the event that triggers the election be the fact that the Conservatives and the other two parties are opposing a strong policy designed to appeal to the voters - one that the minority Parliament will not work together on in its current configuration. There are ways of trying to force Parliament to consider the agendas of the other parties - and possibly inflict negative spin on the Conservatives - but right now it appears that the Liberals are content to lick their self-inflicted wounds and allow Harper to cruise boldly forward with ill-conceived policies.

Until something shifts in Parliament, I'm afraid my posts will continue to be sporadic. There is only so much passion and interest that I can generate about the static, passive approach that the opposition parties are currently taking in response to the Harper agenda.

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1 Comments:

At 10:55 am, Anonymous elspeth said...

I agree there should be an election after Christmas sometime, and the Liberals should keep this going somehow. The Torie's election scam investigation will be lost, if one is called. the full impact of the budget is not yet felt.

 

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