Notes on a crisis: how it came to this


 

– The opposition parties did not have to bring down the government over the fall economic statement., whatever “provocations” it contained. They chose to. They had other options (aside from simply agreeing to rely more on voluntary donations, and less on the taxpayer). They could have proposed amendments. They could have stalled, filibustered, tied up parliamentary business. They could have demanded the resignation of the Finance minister. Instead, they went straight to the nuclear option.

They did so, as has since become clear, not because they were forced to, but because they could. They — the Bloc and the NDP at least — had been planning this for some time. All they needed was the pretext, and the government gave it to them. Leave aside that surreptitiously taped conference call. Our own Mitch Raphael was reporting a month ago on the nascent coalition plans.

It’s clear that the NDP was the one driving this. The initial Liberal response to the statement was much more cautious. It was the NDP that first declared “war,” forcing the Liberals to fall in behind them. Layton, in effect, rolled Dion. And Dion rolled his party: the whole deal was cooked up out of Dion’s office without any apparent consultation, either with the national executive or the various leadership camps.

– The government shares responsiblity for the mess we’re in, then, but only indirectly. That is, it should have guessed how the opposition would respond. It should have known what they were up to. It should have been more careful not to give them the opening they needed. They, too, had other options: they could have delayed implementation of the party funding changes, for example. But it’s a tactical error, not a moral one. There’s nothing wrong in principle with requiring parties to finance themselves.

And there’s nothing wrong with tying it to an economic package. In the next few months, possibly years, governments are going to have to say no to a lot of interests (unless it is proposed that they should bail out everyone). Is there not something more than a little unseemly in the image of a political party continuing to feast at the public trough, even as it is pushing others away? “Sorry, there’s no money in the till for you. But there’s just enough for us.”

– Should Stephen Harper wear this? Of course. It was his decision, and his error. Some have attributed this to hubris. I think it is rather timidity. It is of a piece with the whole strategy the party has pursued over the past several years. Rather than openly advocate a particular course of action — rather than clearly articulate a distinctive philosophy of government and a program of government that flows from it, they have relied on trickery, surprises, tacitcal manoeuvres — and sometimes on sheer thuggery. They don’t have the confidence that they can win the arguments on their merits, that they can beat their opponents, as it were, on the ice. So instead they try to lick ’em in the alley.


 

Notes on a crisis: how it came to this

  1. The opposition parties did not have to bring down the government over the fall economic statement., whatever “provocations” it contained. They chose to.

    Holy cow! When did this happen? I’ve been following this pretty closely but I don’t remember the opposition parties actually bringing down the government.

  2. THANK YOU!

    I don’t care if the Conservatives had attempted to ban Christmas, the opposition parties had MANY other options. They did not have to go to this extreme. The fact that they did makes it absolutely crystal clear that this was the intent all along and they were just looking for an opening.

  3. Was it just me or did this one end with the conservatives trying to lick the opposition in the alley? Awkward…

  4. Agreed. And especially about the Tories being afraid to advocate for what they believe in. Of course their luck was going to run out that way. We still haven’t had them explain why it is a dumn idea to write a $30bn cheque during a fiscal update—even though Don Drummond would have their back! The CPC is not losing the debate, they are avoiding it. A stupid move. And prorogation would only make it worse. Let’s have an election!

  5. Only Andrew Coyne could see party financing as a moral issue. He missed his calling in the Church.

  6. Whether it was hubris or timidity on Harper’s part, it was also horrendous bad judgement and I think demonstrated a lack of seriousness. He was apparently focused on the tactical (which he got wrong) at the expense of concern for the seriousness of the crisis situation we’re in. Combined with the utter lack of scruple demonstrated by the eavesdropping episode, I think this shows that he is unfit to govern.

    I think the analysis of Layon’s actions etc. is likely spot on.

  7. I hereby nominate this Andrew Coyne entry of December 3, 2008, for the “Canadian Contrarian Weblog Post of the Year,” a previously non-existent honor that was, it is clear to me now, lying latent and in-wait for the first web log post in which every syllable was perfectly and majestically contrary to reality.

  8. “But it’s a tactical error, not a moral one. “

    Actually it was both.

    When the country is in entering an economic crisis of unknown proportions, when you did not win a majority of seats in Parliament, when you just announced in your throne speech the week before that you would be working with Parliament… and then you insert a whole bunch of nuclear partisan policies into your economic update (anti-strike, anti-pay equity, anti-political funding), without ANY consultation and tell the world it is all going to be a matter of confidence… then you have failed the moral test as well.

    Even Harper has maintained that a minority government’s “first obligation” and its “democractic obligation” is to consult with and seek consensus with the whole House. Only he said that when he was in opposition. So it is equally a moral error and failure to abandon your own principles for partisan gain.

    That the opposition parties have chosen to get into the mud as well does not make the Conservatives clean. That the opposition parties may have had other option, doesn’t relieve Harper as you would.

    Personally, I think they probably have chosen to bring this government to its knees, as they had by Friday, and keep it there rather than also try to cut its head off. But Harper got us into this mess. The opposition parties are guilty only of having chosen not to get us out of it.

  9. “Trickery, surprises, tacitcal manoeuvres — and sometimes…sheer thuggery” — Don’t some of those count as “moral errors”?

    There are a number of things that have brought our government to the brink, but the indispensable ingredient in our very own parliamentary shit sandwich is this: Stephen Harper can’t stop acting like a prick.

  10. It shouldn’t be a big surprise that the opposition parties were plotting to take down the government side; it’s what they do.

    Did they have other options? None of the parties supported the fact that the subsidy was being cut (and so quickly), none of them I suspect really supported the provisions on pay equity and revoking the right to strike. Simply voting against it would have led to another election, and perhaps based on this statement there was no appetite to try to continue working with the Tories.

  11. “And Dion rolled his party: the whole deal was cooked up out of Dion’s office without any apparent consultation, either with the national executive or the various leadership camps.”

    Is this accurate, because I believe can easily believe it. I don’t understand why the Libs, of all parties, would be willing to do deals with BQ. If the Libs stand for anything, it is for the destruction of separatism, and most certainly not doing deals with the separatists and giving them respectability. If Dion does actually become PM, it will be great example of how power corrupts.

    “Rather than openly advocate a particular course of action — rather than clearly articulate a distinctive philosophy of government and a program of government that flows from it … ”

    100% agree with that. Since Harper took over, the Cons are totally unmoored from their beliefs. The Conservatives should behave like conservatives, not libs-lite, but they are adrift and don’t know where to look.

    I think a real conservative government would have reduced party financing as well as reducing cost/salaries of public service employees and included all the measures in the budget. Since when are the Cons champions of public service at the expense of private sector?

  12. Jack Layton was and still is a political opportunist (other more adequate words come to my mind) so it was not a big surprise that he would try to make one big scoop so it is no wonder Duceppe was so accomodating. Lefties grew way too bold for their small numbers and something had to be done to clip their wings.

  13. The problem isn’t that the opposition parties jumped on the Coalition too quickly. It’s that they took too long. Their message from day 1 of Harper’s first term should have been: You have a minority. You must represent the will of Canadians and the majority of this House. If you do not we will end you.

    Instead everyone forgot how Canadian democracy works and now they have somehow all woken up. Nice timing guys.

  14. “And Dion rolled his party: the whole deal was cooked up out of Dion’s office without any apparent consultation, either with the national executive or the various leadership camps.”

    That’s impossible – after all Stephane Dion is “not a leader.”

    Isn’t the real issue here that Stephane Dion, faced with an untenable and difficult challenge thrust upon him by an opportunistic Layton on one side and a hyper partisan hell bent Harper on the other, did exactly what leadership called for in this situation – he compromised. If he had made no immediate decision you would have called him a ditherer. If he consulted his caucus you would have called him weak. If he buckled you would have called him a loser. He did what he had to do – and faced with the alternatives it remains the best option not noly for him or his party, but at the moment for his country.

    Andrew, when this coalition chatter started, your pejorative nouns describing each of the partners were “socialists” “separatists” and “compromisers”. Those were your words. If being a “compromiser” is the best insult you can hurl at Dion in this time of crisis, then please keep insulting him. If Canada’s Parliament, Canada’s economy and Canadians themselves need anything at this moment – it’s compromise. And Dion, at present, seems to exude the least self-interest of anyone involved.

    I’m glad this is happening. It stops the ideologue schoolyard bully in his tracks. It shows Canadians how incredibly unfocused this current government is. It forever puts a damper on the NDP’s ridiculous proposal of the past several years that Canadians want more minority parliaments and proportional representation, and ends the accusation that the Liberal won’t stand up to Conservatives in the House. It also forces Quebecers who have voted Bloc to realize that from now on, Parliamentary battles and federal elections will be fought over policy and ideas, not identity nonsense. Bring the coalition, even if it only begets another election in short order. Canadians want compromise, not culture wars, nor petty vindictiveness, and there is only one party in the country willing to offer it.

  15. You’re really putting serious stress on the credibility envelope, Mr. Coyne.

  16. I partly agree, and I certainly wish a different course was taken. But I’d hope that most people could admit that you can only kneecap people X number of times before they fight back. You don’t get kicked in the head with a steel toed boot and react with mild finger wagging.

  17. Harper just finished running as more moderate in the last election. He donned the sweater vest, toned down his rhetoric all to convince the unsuspecting public that he is a changed leader. Immediately after being elected, he resorts back to his true ideological right wing self. Lets get real here. This is what angered all the MP’s. He was never going to try and work with anyone else. With Harper, it is his way or no way. With this divisive syle of leadership, our parliament will never work.

    The only way it will, is a coaliton or Harper’s resignation.

  18. Coyne: “They had other options… They could have proposed amendments. They could have stalled, filibustered, tied up parliamentary business. They could have demanded the resignation of the Finance minister.”

    Shyeah, I’m sure Prime Minister New Spirit of Cooperation, his Greek Chorus and Andrew Coyne would have responded thoughtfully and respectfully to any of those tactics. After all, it’s the role of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and they all demonstrated respect for that role in the previous Parliament.

    Honestly Coyne, that’s the weakest argument I’ve heard since the debacle began. Is your editor on vacation?

  19. It is clear the other parties went nuclear because of very personal feelings towards one man, Stephen Harper. I have also been hearing that the Conservative caucus is the only one that does not spontaneously stand every time their leader speaks in the House. Out here in Québec, members of the conservative caucus publicly supporting the government this week have been very rare. An unelected second tier campaign strategist called Dimitri Soudas has been the the face of the party the whole week.

    Maybe if Stephen Harper could save his government by resigning?

  20. I guess they could have debated the stimulus package in parliamentary committee, but we’ve all seen how that plays out in a Harper dictatorship.

  21. To put it another way:

    Severe rainstorms and thunderstorms are forecast. Possibly a hurricane, definitely flooding.

    Instead of building up barricades, Harper starts a little fire to roast the other parties and quickly loses control of the fire.

    Instead of trying to put the fire out, the opposition parties then try to put the fire out with some gasoline.

    Instead of blocking the gasoline, Harper fumes and screams and throws a handgrenade into the fire in order to put it out.

    Instead of running for cover from the explosion, the opposition parties jump on the handgrenade to contain it.

    Instead of… and so on and so on.

    And before you know it, those now-forgotten flood waters drown the lot of them. At least we can only hope.

  22. When someone with no reputation for honesty threatens to seriously harm your financial well being, you have to take them out quickly and permanently. Even if they back down now, there’s no guarantee Harper wouldn’t have tried it again at the earliest opportunity. And any promise he made to the contrary wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on.

  23. The one with options was Harper. He had the choice of being a mature statesman, trying to rachet down the partisanship, and trying to make a minority government work, but he CHOSE to play frat boy tricks, instead.

    To say that it’s “going nuclear” to decide to rid parliament of the guy who wrote the book on obstructing its role and function, and has every plan of continuing to do so, is like accusing the cop who responds to a domestic distrubance of breaking up families.

  24. Jack Layton was and still is a political opportunist (other more adequate words come to my mind)

    More adequate words like “chessmaster” perhaps.

  25. Honestly Coyne, that’s the weakest argument I’ve heard since the debacle began. Is your editor on vacation?

    The old man is dead. Now the National Postification of Macleans can begin in earnest.

  26. Ted at 11:39, excellent post. Much better than the one you’re commenting on, actually.

  27. So the fix is in, if it all fails Dion separatist mole who infiltrated and took over leadership of Liberal Party cooked with Duceppe and Layton the Three Stooges Rebellion. Funny how it all works out “four wise men” who were going to advise on running this “frak show of the government” are nowhere to be found.

  28. Stop the SEPARATIST COALITION now.!!!

  29. Andrew, are you having a mid-life crisis? You just don’t seem yourself these days. You certainly are expressing a lot of anger. I have been unable to agree with you for some time now….where is the Andrew that I used to know? (chuckle, chuckle)

  30. Another excellent summation.

    “Sorry, there’s no money in the till for you. But there’s just enough for us.”

    I’m trying to remember the last PM who appreciated the reality of such implications. I can’t think of any.

    And you’re right; the only error Harper made was that he completely underestimated the self-interest of the opposition parties. That they would take the entire nation to the brink of the abyss, with regard to both economic and political stability as well as national unity, obviously had not occurred to the PM.

    But then again, WOULD, OR EVEN SHOULD, THAT HAVE OCCURRED TO ANY REASONABLY SANE AND INTELLIGENT MIND???

    And is that not the point?

  31. “The government shares responsiblity for the mess we’re in, then, but only indirectly. ”

    I give up on Coyne.

  32. “The government shares responsiblity for the mess we’re in, then, but only indirectly. ”

    Once again Andrew, you just don’t get it – the economic update was nothing more than a provocation, and as such signalled Harper’s intentions for this session of Parliament. The Opposition Parties are simply saying, not this time.

    “Rather than openly advocate a particular course of action — rather than clearly articulate a distinctive philosophy of government and a program of government that flows from it, they have relied on trickery, surprises, tacitcal manoeuvres — and sometimes on sheer thuggery. They don’t have the confidence that they can win the arguments on their merits, that they can beat their opponents, as it were, on the ice. So instead they try to lick ‘em in the alley.”

    Or, maybe you do…

  33. They had other options (aside from simply agreeing to rely more on voluntary donations, and less on the taxpayer). They could have proposed amendments. They could have stalled, filibustered, tied up parliamentary business. They could have demanded the resignation of the Finance minister.

    And what would have been the Government’s response to all of that? Harper would probably have prorogued Parliament or called an election.

    Maybe this circus serves your purposes, Mr. Coyne, since you don’t have anything at stake. You don’t even have to report on it…all you have to do is favour us with your brilliant opinion.

    Crass and self-serving.

  34. Ted, too funny and too true. Lets hope that in the end they only hurt themselves and don’t do any lasting damage to the country as a whole. Does anyone worry about the possible larger implications here? Lets hope this doesn’t snowball more out of control than it already has. The ‘coalition’ did go nuclear right away ….

  35. Robert McClelland,
    I do not know how to tell you this, thinking has a great future but it is also very harmful to those that are not properly trained for it. Layton might as well be a great “chessmaster” in his own circle of friends as in the land of blind one eye man is a king.

  36. “Should Stephen Harper wear this? Of course. It was his decision, and his error. Some have attributed this to hubris. I think it is rather timidity. It is of a piece with the whole strategy the party has pursued over the past several years. Rather than openly advocate a particular course of action — rather than clearly articulate a distinctive philosophy of government and a program of government that flows from it, they have relied on trickery, surprises, tacitcal manoeuvres — and sometimes on sheer thuggery. They don’t have the confidence that they can win the arguments on their merits, that they can beat their opponents, as it were, on the ice. So instead they try to lick ‘em in the alley.”

    Coyne still doesn’t get it.

    He seems to truely believe that the CPC’s motives were based on principles. Coyne has got to be the only person in Ottawa who actually does not get that Harper’s sole motivation in including this subsidy cut was the total bankruptcy of the Liberals.

    That’s why he brought it in by stealth and that’s why he didn’t seek to debate the merits of that proposal. He wants full supremacy and is obsessed with destroying the Liberals.

    I don’t know on what planet you currently reside, Andrew, but a trip back to earth would make sense right about now.

  37. While it’s been argued that it is the coalition that is trying to overturn the last election results, I’m becoming more convinced that it is Harper who is showing more disdain for that result. That vote was that a minority gov’t find ways and means, led by Harper, to govern. He displayed in his fiscal update no interest in dealing with the financial crisis and instead created a whole other issue on which to ‘roll’ parliament. But now, the man who once said he didn’t care if Canada had one, two or 10 national governments is trying to use the flag to incite insurrection and a possible new election, when the opposition does not have its new leader in place.
    He couldn’t beat Dion handily enough as Leader of the Opposition, so now he’s decided that he’ll risk Canada to beat him as he’s got one foot out the door. Pathetic.

  38. Andrew, you are right, Harper has to “wear this”.

    The best option is for the CPC to get rid of Harper (and put in Prentice or Clement), get rid of Flaherty, come up with another policy to present to the HoC and see if they can get confidence.

    The second option is to call for vote and if they lose, then allow someone else to earn confidence in the HoC, and let them govern.

    Either way, HARPER HAS TO GO!!

  39. ““And Dion rolled his party: the whole deal was cooked up out of Dion’s office without any apparent consultation, either with the national executive or the various leadership camps.”

    “jwl: Is this accurate, because I believe can easily believe it.”

    Of course it’s not accurate. You honestly believe that Dion has that kind of pull on his caucus?!? Yet another example of how “out to lunch” Coyne has been these past few days. Dion couldn’t possibly have had enough influence on his caucus to get them to agree to join the NDP and the Bloc in a coalition.

    Who is Coyne trying to fool here?

  40. Andrew, surely you could give us an Airbus story next. Even your fan club can’t say anything nice about this latest offering.

  41. I am more glad than you could possibly imagine that Andrew Coyne is not a persuasive writer.

  42. “So the fix is in, if it all fails Dion separatist mole who infiltrated and took over leadership of Liberal Party cooked with Duceppe and Layton the Three Stooges Rebellion.”

    Dion a separatist mole?

    MUAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

  43. I don’t think that there’s much doubt as to the central point of Andrew’s column – that the opposition parties, in particular Duceppe and Layton (who were both involved in a similar, earlier effort with Harper until Layton backed off) were eager for a chance to form a coalition government, and took the first opportunity to do so. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Dion, seeing an opportunity to avoid going down as one of the most ineffectual Liberal leaders in history, jumped at the chance of his own accord and without widespread consultation.

    That said, Harper is responsible for this. Had he made political financing an item on his rather vacuous election platform, rather than springing it from nowhere at first opportunity, the opposition would have had no grounds to take the steps that they have. Harper’s tactics, not his proposed policy, was the “moral” issue here.

  44. PolJunkie

    Being against state funding for parties is a principle for conservatives, they would much rather parties rely on their supporters instead. Coyne is saying that Cons have mostly abandoned their principles and are relying on trickery, tactics … to govern instead.

  45. Some of you need to reign in the personal attacks on Coyne. You’re beginning to sound like kody.

  46. “Dion couldn’t possibly have had enough influence on his caucus to get them to agree to join the NDP and the Bloc in a coalition.”

    Dion is the leader until May. He signed the deal, and the only two figures he needed to convince were Ignatieff and Rae – with the two clear leadership contenders on board who, exactly, would a caucus mutiny form around?

  47. jwl, and I am telling you that you are deluding yourself if you think that this economic statement was based on principles. It was based on one thing and one thing only: provocation.

    Principles had nothing to do with it. If it were based on principle, why impose such an impossible deadline for its implementation?

  48. Coyne, I do think it was morally questionable to attempt democratic reform through a back-door money bill poison pill. If the Conservatives were sincere about their desire for democratic reform, it should be a separate debate. And the bit about politicians needed to appear to wear some of this is nonsense: Harper added a dozen window-dressing cabinet seats at $75,000 a pop + expenses–essentially just a kickback for cronies. Furthermore, if this were about austerity, why were the tax credits or campaign expense refunds not similarly attacked? Even if you think party subsidies are immoral, it is incredible to suggest that what the Tories were doing was in any way morally in the right.

  49. “Dion is the leader until May. He signed the deal, and the only two figures he needed to convince were Ignatieff and Rae – with the two clear leadership contenders on board who, exactly, would a caucus mutiny form around?”

    There was no need to convince anyone after Harper’s stunt. Only an idiot wouldn’t understand that Harper had the left the Opposition with no choice but to find a way to take him out. If you think that any of these Liberals were actually envisaging voting for the economic statement, you must be residing on the same planet as Coyne.

    A coalition with the other two gave the Libs away to take out Harper w/o having to go to the polls. Anyone would sense would understand that allowing Harper to remain in power would be tantamount to signing their death certificate. While the coalition option might have made some in the LPC caucus nervous, they all understood that they were under a bigger threat if they allowed Harper to stay.

    Harper cannot be trusted to engage in honest negotiations. Just about everything that comes out of his mouth these days is a lie. They couldn’t trust him to not shoot them in the back at the next confidence vote.

    Harper left them no choice. Dion didn’t need to convince anyone of this.

  50. Anyone with sense

  51. “The opposition parties did not have to bring down the government over the fall economic statement., whatever “provocations” it contained. They chose to. They had other options (aside from simply agreeing to rely more on voluntary donations, and less on the taxpayer). They could have proposed amendments. They could have stalled, filibustered, tied up parliamentary business. They could have demanded the resignation of the Finance minister. Instead, they went straight to the nuclear option.”

    This all makes a great deal of sense. Assuming one examines the situation in a vacuum, absent of context and history.

    Somebody pulls a knife on me, I’m not going to slap his face and hope that does the trick.

    Why is it, Mr. Coyne, that in your world only the Conservatives get a pass for acting like conniving bastards? It’s simply not fair to suggest that the parties with approaches you don’t like should roll over and let Harper stomp on them. All the options you suggest for the opposition would have amounted to electoral suicide next time around. I don’t much like what’s happening, but I’m hard pressed to think of a realistic alternative.

  52. Andrew, thank you for sharing your valuable insights.

    Even if I didn’t agree with you, I would still be grateful that someone is presenting an alternate viewpoint. Please continue.

    Politics would be unbearable if it were populated exclusively by partisans scrambling to defend their side and attack the other as if this were professional sports. Thank you for making it bearable.

  53. Not the “Ted” above.

    Andrew, like SH you’ve lost all my respect. Harper deliberately tried to harpoon the opposition parties. Had he been able to pass this update unchallenged we would effectively had no viable opposition for several years. His was a deliberate attempt to bankrupt the opposition and thwart Democracy. If SH has his way we will end up with a Totalitarian government.

    I’m equally disappointed with that portion of the Conservative party who had their roots in the Progressive Conservative party. Any attempt to suggest that the Conservatives are Tories is beyond belief. I hope that the Coalition stays the course and that the end result is the demise of SH.

  54. “Harper left them no choice. Dion didn’t need to convince anyone of this.”

    If I’m Michael Ignatieff, is it in my best interest to inherit a party

    a) currently in a coalition with the NDP and the Bloc at a time when the economy is tanking, after negotiating a backroom deal that will alienate an indeterminant number of supporters

    or

    b) that now needs to improve its fundraising machinery, and has been in opposition criticizing a Tory govt. that has presided over a recession.

    In the long-term, I think there is an argument to be made for b)

  55. Mr. Coyne, you debase your reputation with this steaming pile of nonsense. Sure, you flirt with the edges of reality, then abandon it for some fantasy view concocted, I suppose, to influence those unsure about the nature of this crisis to favour Conservatives — the villains of the piece.

    Opinion is one thing, but propaganda disguised as opinion?

    The opposition parties did not have to bring down the government over the fall economic statement., whatever “provocations” it contained. They chose to.

    The “provocations” were mean-spirited partisan insults coming from a man who has behaved like a thug since taking the reins of government. At a minimum, he deserves censure for his treacherous behaviour. His party did not receive a majority mandate, so he had and has a responsibility to compromise, yet he will not.

    The government shares responsiblity [sic] for the mess we’re in, then, but only indirectly.

    Without Harper’s deliberately provocative FU measures, there would have been no reasonable pretext for a coalition.

    And Dion rolled his party: the whole deal was cooked up out of Dion’s office without any apparent consultation, either with the national executive or the various leadership camps.

    Are you suggesting Ed Broadbent and Jean Chretien took orders from Layton and Dion? You’ll have to provide evidence before I’ll believe that one.

    Should Stephen Harper wear this? Of course. It was his decision, and his error.

    The man has not apologized, and continues to denigrate Honourable Members of the oppostion instead of cooperating. He is a seeming pathological demagogue.

  56. Harper’s greatest miscalculation was mistakenly thinking that when confronted with an on coming train, a normal person would get off the tracks, not continue to stand there in the middle of the tracks and flip the train the bird.

    Jack Layton and Stephan Dion are not normal thinking people, they are cornered rats and anyone who has ever had the misfortune of being in that position knows that a cornered rat will attack a person, by jump at their face or running up their pant leg in order to bite you know where.

    I live on a farm and if you want to corner and kill a rat, you damn well better have a loaded shotgun in your hand or be extremely good with a steel shovel. Harper did have a shotgun in his hand but it wasn’t loaded.

    After this I suspect Canadians will give Steve a couple of shells. Because as much as Canadians dislike a man with a loaded gun, rats, especially unpredictable crazed rats, send shivers down peoples spines and give Canadians nightmares.

  57. A number of commentors still labour under the delusion that the fiscal update provisions launched this. It is conceded that the NDP and Bloc were negotiating prior to the update. Harper’s government has backed down; the opposition has proved they can win a fight without dissolving the House. The coalition is nevertheless steaming ahead with a plan that was hatched prior to the provocation, and has repeatedly insisted that the larger government budget picture – not the party funding cuts – is the excuse. In short, the opposition’s bid was guaranteed to be launched unless the Conservatives opened Parliament with a promise to spend a lot of money and, in all likelihood, incur a deficit 10 times the forecasts that so many people have been pointing to as evidence of “incompetence”. Either stop criticizing the Conservatives for their management of the budget, or start to criticize the Liberal/NDP proposals for the same reasons.

    All we know for sure is that the turnover was begun prior to whatever pretext was necessary to launch it. Stop pretending that the Liberals and NDP are just fighting for survival – that fight was won quickly. This fight is about who decides how large Canada’s 2009 deficit will be, and how much social program expansion can be piggybacked onto a basic fiscal management package.

  58. Oh and by the way, Duceppe is a cunning fox. While Steve the farmer is busy trying to control the rats, he just slips into the henhouse and grabs himself a couple of fat birds.
    Now after Steve spends most of his day trying to deal his rat problem, he wanders over to the henhouse only to discover Duceppe the fox has been there, so he secures the coupe the best he can. Meanwhile Duceppe comes back later only to discover he can’t get back into the henhouse, but he’s still hungry because he took those birds back to the den for the pups and he didn’t get a bite. But he sees a few rats scurrying around that farmer Steve didn’t get and so Duceppe the fox dines on rats instead of chickens.

  59. ‘Why is it, Mr. Coyne, that in your world only the Conservatives get a pass for acting like conniving bastards? It’s simply not fair to suggest that the parties with approaches you don’t like should roll over and let Harper stomp on them. All the options you suggest for the opposition would have amounted to electoral suicide next time around. I don’t much like what’s happening, but I’m hard pressed to think of a realistic alternative.’

    Mr. Coyne never suggested that the opposition parties ‘roll over’. All the methods he suggested are actually quite reasonable.

    Opposition parties have proposed amendments before without being subjected to electoral suicide. In fact most Canadians woud have welcomed it. As opposed to going to such an extreeme measure in trying to oust a governent. I will never vote for the NDP. Never ever. I knew that Jack Layton was into self-angradisment. But I had no idea that he was so sleezy and coniving.

  60. Fully 3/4 of small private political donations comes from the public trough in the form of tax breaks. If you want to get the parties off the dole, be consistent, and advocate dropping the tax break.

    The per-vote subsidy at least has no dependence on means attached to it.

  61. A case can be made that Harper’s only miscalculation was in lacking the clairvoyance to foresee how deep the conspiracy to coalesce ran in the opposition parties. In the last Parliament, the opposition again and again avoided confidence motions and sought to work resistance within the framework of a Tory minority. Harper was basing the calculus on demonstrated behavior. Additionally, a confidence motion carries the risk of an election, mere weeks from the last. Again, Harper saw an election risk as a cushion against a confidence motion. As well, given the Liberal leadership process, the weakness of Dion as leader, the absurdity of a colation of separatists ad hoc, et al, all of these facts gave Harper a reasonable basis for the moves he made.
    Harper is a pitcher on the mound. His economic statement and poli-party pooping proposal is a fastball, hard and inside, designed to push the opposition off the plate, challenging the hitter Clemens-style. Its a good pitch, but the opposition hits it anyway out into left field just shy of foul territory; the Tories are now trying to get the ball home as the opposition slides home with the GG-ump waiting to call safe or out.
    Pitchers make good pitches. Sometimes they get hit anyways.

  62. can this impasse ever be solved as long as the non national bloc is counted toward the seats needed for a majority. the seats needed should be from a national party only. the bloc can as a sop to quebec still be a parasite on the canadian taxpayer but their votes should have no effect on any legislation. or counted toward forming a majority parliament.else canada will never have a majority canadian parliament

  63. Wow, don. Nothing says democratic legitimacy like telling constituents their representative doesn’t count.