The short version


 

Harper will back down.


 
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The short version

  1. Aw, man.

  2. Paul there are now two ways to look at this:

    – Harper backs down. Opposition just made themselves look foolish by being willing to bring down the government…not on pensions, or jobs, or health care, or war, but on preserving their dole. I don’t think they understand how foolish they look tonight to the country. Harper looks like a douche too, but we already expect that from him, and we kind of like him for it.

    – Or…Harper feels he has nothing to lose: they let this pass and he has a huge advantage in the next couple of elections. Or…they bring him down. This is not a bad thing: it, in no order:

    * cancels the leadership convention and forces Dion to stay around for another election.
    * prevents him from being the one to bring in a deficit budget.
    * absolves him of being the one to govern in touch economic times. The mess next year won’t be blamed on him but on the government. He will, through all of this, have 140+ MP’s as a base.

    If they do bring him down this will be 1979 in reverse. You’ll see.

  3. This is way O/T, but surely it deserves mention that President-elect Obama is displaying the same control-freak tendencies as PM Harper, pre-selecting favoured reporters to ask questions. I mean, everyone here is so opposed in _principle_ to this, right? (Ok, PW might actually be opposed in principle… harder to say about AW and the comment denizens…)

    (http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/26/obama-beats-record-press-conferences/)

  4. Why not just reduce the voter subsidy? Reducing it to .50 cents would sufficiently destroy the Bloq and let the others live to see another day.

  5. Good. Canadians don’t deserve this.

  6. In the meantime he’s managed to further alienate millions of people.

    People who are not supporters but were prepared to climb down off the horse of high dudgeon through troubled times as long as he could bring himself to behave like a statesman instead of like a two year old with all the marbles ( remember them?).

    Didn’t happen.

  7. Yes, but how can the opposition back down since Harper will try to screw them again in February, and again, and again?

  8. I do not see how the Liberals could not back down. All this talk about Liberals forming a unity government is pure nonsense. It would be totally dysfunctional, it would put back Dion front stage and they would not be able to go through the Leadership Race while they have a Prime Minister in power. So the race does not happen, then the Liberals get crushed by the Conservatives 1-2 years from now because the lame duck Dion is still around and the Conservatives can blame him for all that happened during the economic “crisis”. Maybe he learns from his mistakes and manages to run a smooth campaign and win a majority; which banishes the Liberals from power for another 4-5 years. After the loss, the Liberals have to wait almost another year before they finally do their leadership race and find a leader that has a chance to brings the party back to life? In the meantime maybe another party springs up to replace the sclerotic Liberals. Now I might be wrong, maybe the Liberals have thought a solution out for this problem but I do not think so. I think they are angry right now and they are saying all kinds of things to scare Harper, but when they’ll calm down they will realize that they have their hands tied until they have a new leader.

    If Harper forces a showdown, the Liberals will back down.

  9. Yes, but how can the opposition back down since Harper will try to screw them again in February, and again, and again?

    They’ll fall of that bridge when they come to it. But I seriously doubt Harper’s government is going to look all that shiny past mid-January. Obama-gate, don’t you know.

  10. Anyone care to explain any scenario where Stephen Harper will be up in front of Canadians talking about backing down?

    I just can’t see it happening. Perhaps I lack imagination.

    Will he send someone else to do it? That seems more plausible. But who?

    Still, Harper is a so-called Prime Minister and it would be hard for him to bail out on speaking to Canadians at this dire time in our history. Right?

  11. In the meantime he’s managed to further alienate millions of people.

    Online Poll at CTV news

    Should the government slash public funding for federal parties?

    Yes 7175 votes (80 %)
    No 1800 votes (20 %)

    I’d say the opposition are at much greater risk of alienating millions of Canadians than Harper is.

    I don’t see how the GG gives anyone else a chance to form a government unless they can command the confidence of the house. Lib + NDP alone cannot do that. You can’t provoke a constitutional crisis on a “Lib/NDP coalition which the Bloq may support”. Which means there is no way they get to pull this off unless they have a formal coalition with the Bloq. Which makes Duceppe the kingmaker who will hold the rest of Canada hostage in the name of raiding the treasury for Quebec. What a nightmare.

    6 months or no 6 months, I don’t see how the result of the Harper government falling can be anything other than another election.

  12. john g do honestly believe that online poll is worth anything more than the fortune teller at the traveling carnival?

    why Paul?

  13. Everyone will back down. That’s what Valium was made for. Everyone should know that Christmas is upon us and that very few really serious decisions are made in December. Let’s just enjoy the season!

  14. Acer’s closer to the mark than Paul. I agree with both of his comments.

    I wonder if the parties can all meet half-way as he says and decrease the subsidy by 50%. That looks like a reasonable compromise and shows Canadians that the parties can work together.

    The Bloc won’t compromise because there goes 43% of their overall funding – the Bloc gets squeezed on their funding, that’s something all Canadians can rally around.

  15. they would not be able to go through the Leadership Race while they have a Prime Minister in power

    Are memories really that short? I see to recall Jean Chretien being in power as PM (for many, many years) during the leadership race that coronated Paul Martin. Trudeau was PM during the race John Turner won. And so on throughout history. No reason why the race can’t go on while Dion is the PM in the coalition. Naturally he’d step aside for the new leader in May, and then the coalition would either fracture, continue or, my guess, the new PM would quickly engineer a defeat and force an election.

    But while highly entertaining this speculation is all moot, as Paul is absolutely right. Harper will back down. He’s not leaving 24 Sussex any time soon. He’ll carve the party financing stuff out into a separate, non-confidence bill, throw in a little earlier stimulus to mollify one of the opposition parties, and live to fight another day, his bluff having been called.

  16. Conservative issue is, did they start something rolling. However if the oppsoition parties dont get to coalition now then they likely wont have a chance. 6 months out and GG will be into the election mode and they’ll be close to Liberal leadership change.

    Does this have a life of its own now and the opposition have eaten enough Kat that they think they can do this. How you can have anything sustainable without the Bloc AND being smaller in seat numbers than the tories is just beyond reason.

    Harper might have pushed it but one would hope the GG would be the darn adult and signal to the opposition leaders that a visit from them is unwelcome unless they were one party AND they could count on the Bloc for 2 years. If not then why not just have an election and let the people decide.

    It would be funny watching DION campaign without ever getting on an airplane.

  17. seaandthemountains obviously it’s not scientifically accurate but it seems fair to say that more people than not believe it is a good idea, and that the opposition should question if this is the hill they want to die on.

  18. Harper will back down.

    On what?

    The opposition is threatening to topple the government because the fiscal update contained no stimulus package.

    Will Harper pull a stimulus package out of his hat?

  19. The Conservatives would certainly win an election if one was forced and they would have a decent chance to form a majority.

    They would get to do re-runs of Dion Not a Leader ads and would get to make a couple of new ones based on more recent material – Dion’s resignation speech as leader and the botched ATV interview. Widespread airing of the latter would have the Libs at 21-22 % by the end of the writ period.

    What a grind though, going through another 5 weeks of what transpired last election is not for the faint of heart.

  20. Uhh. I can’t see why at all. The GG is not going to let a three-fer (if such could ever be pulled off) to form government over the clear plurality of members of the House, particularly when it would include the Bloc (who wouldn’t want anything to do with such an arrangement). So–it’s election time and only one party has money in the bank. If Citibank can’t access credit, will the LPC be able to add to their debt load? If so, it’s a blood-bath for them. Seriously.

    Dear Canadians, Whom We Wish to Govern: We are forceing you back to the polls after two months, at a cost 10X greater than this programme in total, because we can’t have your tax monies taken from us… and we, who cannot convince you to donate, are sure you will agree this is compelling reason to give us your vote. I fear they’re all smoking crack on the Hill. Me, I stand with Obama–against public financing!

  21. If Harper had spent his career dreaming of ways to make Canada a better country, instead of pining for ways to stick it to the Liberals, I’d be feeling a lot better about things. Economy’s headed for the blender, and Harper’s still playing game theory stunts in real-time.

    I’d welcome an election. AND I’d vote for my Liberal candidate too.

  22. So, Canadian democracy is brought as low as a party’s bank balance. Stephen Harper has money in the bank ergo all Canadians want Stephen Harper as PM.

    Mayhaps some Harper supporters need to get out of the Death Star and take a walk around Main Street.

    Harper ain’t no Obama, that’s for sure.

  23. Obama has not done one thing in power yet. Next.

  24. According to the G&M:”Conservative MPs seemed thunderstruck late Thursday by the possibility that their second term might be coming to an abrupt end. Piling onto a parliamentary shuttle bus, they were heard incredulously asking opposition MPs if they’re serious about forming a coalition.”

    They will back down big time considering that this little drama was completely unnecessary.

  25. Harper will back down.

    It may be too late for that. If he does, the opposition will to face approving an update they say they don’t agree with, with the added bonus of Harper braying on the sidelines that they are flip flopping because he generously took out the financing provision. A constitutional coup looks pretty good, given the alternative. .

  26. Kaplan, you write: “… If Harper had spent his career dreaming of ways to make Canada a better country, instead of pining for ways to stick it to the Liberals …” as if the Conservatives don’t think that sticking it to the Liberals would make Canada a better country, and visa versa.

    Since you insist on being sarcastic about it, let’s look at it from Harper’s alleged Game Theoretic PoV by considering outcomes:

    If it goes to a vote, and Harper wins that vote because an opposition party caves,
    he’s crippled the Bloc, perhaps forever, and stuck a spike in the LPC for at least
    an electoral cycle — perhaps for good, considering how lazy they continue to be
    about actually raising their own money. Since Layton’s Orange Horde is broke
    at the moment, and so doesn’t want an election (right now), and wouldn’t be hurt
    as much as the LPC or Bloq — I could see the NDP caving, easily. And as for the
    Greens, they are still out in the political cold and, to be blunt, don’t matter in this.

    If it goes to a vote, and Harper loses that vote, it goes to the GG …

    … if the GG lets the LPC/NDP/BQ try to form a coalition, they all cross-contaminate
    with hypocrisy (How will the Libs explain voting to continue a subsidy for the BQ,
    to TROC? How could Layton rationalize his new partnership with his recent past
    condemnations of the Libs for the sort of prop-the-government voting he’s now got
    to commit to? How do the BQ explain being part of the federal government, to their
    more passionately militant members/voters) — in the midst of the worst economic
    crisis of the last 50 to 80 years. Like, good luck with that — leave aside the poison
    mood in the LPC caucus over Dion. Hard to see anyone profiting from what follows
    except the one party that would be able to claim it literally had no part in it.

    … if the GG lets Harper put it to the people — the ballot question will be made by
    the Conservatives to be precisely this subsidy. If you think Harper can’t win a
    majority on the back of the possibility of emptying the BQ’s gas-tank permanently,
    you’re smoking lawn-clippings.

    So, far Harper, it’s win/win/win. Minimalizing this as a mere “stunt” is inexact rhetoric.

    There are no bad outcomes for Harper — unless (and this is why Mr. Wells is wrong),
    Harper backs down, thereby losing all the possible “win” outlined above, while also
    looking week.

    Like it or lump it, Harper will not be backing down.

  27. Jarrid, I wonder how Harper’s backtracking on Afghanistan, deficits, and stimulus would play.

  28. “if the GG lets Harper put it to the people — the ballot question will be made by
    the Conservatives to be precisely this subsidy. If you think Harper can’t win a
    majority on the back of the possibility of emptying the BQ’s gas-tank permanently,
    you’re smoking lawn-clippings.”

    Harper can run on the subsidy, and the Liberals can run on “I will save your job. Harper doesn’t care”

    Which will have greater resonance?

  29. D M DeCoste I think more accurately…

    Dear Canadians,
    We have to do this again, because the Government didn’t get the message that you wanted them to co-operate…or realize that they yet remain a minority.

    We ask that this time, half of you… you know… those of you that stayed home, actually show up at the polls. It tends to make the percentage of popular vote more accurate, and sends the Government a clearer picture of what it is you really want from them.

    If you had done so the first time, we would not be in this position now, regardless of which party you support.

  30. Kaplan: “If Harper had spent his career dreaming of ways to make Canada a better country, instead of pining for ways to stick it to the Liberals, I’d be feeling a lot better about things.”

    What I find strange about this approach is that it would be wiser politically to combine the two — policy and partisanship — so that when you do something ruthless you can turn around and say, “This was the week we proposed to strengthen our Arctic sovereignty / build 100 daycare centres” and that becomes the story. You only really need to keep three balls in the air at once. But it seems to be a characteristic of many leaders. Is it just fatigue?

    As Goethe said, “When it was said of Napoleon that he was a man of granite, this applied particularly to his body. What was it, then, which he could not and did not venture ? From the burning sands of the Syrian deserts, to the snowy plains of Moscow, what an incalculable amount of marches, battles, and nightly bivouacs did he go through ? And what fatigues and bodily privations was he forced to endure ? Little sleep, little nourishment, and yet always in the highest mental activity.”

  31. Dennis F: Interesting point actually.

    Harper is going to attempt to back down saying that if this isn’t done the government will go into deficit, but that the deficit will be even worse if there’s an election — thereby attempting to absolve his government of Deficit Jim’s budgeting based on the self-interest of the other parties.

    The opposition, if they’re smart (remains to be seen), will let him make the offer, then bring down the government anyway saying, “The important part isn’t the cut to party subsidies, it’s the complete lack of any fiscal stimulus”, as they’ve already been pushing, and go to the GG based on a three party coalition. Such an agreement will pass because they’ll all cross their hearts and hope to die that they’ll govern effectively for at least two years.. and if they don’t, well, whatever time they have is better than an election right as we’re on the brink, right? Besides, I somehow think the GG is not all that pleased at the performance of Mr. Harper and the role he’s forced her into, so some means of flipping him the bird might well be welcome at Rideau Hall.

    Will being unable to do anything about the collapse damage the coalition? Yup. But being a coalition, they can
    a) All play silly buggers and point to the other members of the coalition, and
    b) Blame Deficit Jim for putting them in the situation in the first place.

    Meanwhile, when’s the next leadership convention scheduled for Harper? Think the chattering class will be happy that Harper will have enabled the first NDP government ever?

  32. Andrew quite reasonably asks:

    “Harper can run on the subsidy, and the Liberals can run on
    ‘I will save your job. Harper doesn’t care’ — Which will have
    greater resonance?”

    You’re right — that’s the probably pair of sales pitches. But I think National Unity will trump
    the jobs thing — because the Liberals are hardly in a position (given the hideous financial
    disarray of their own party) to pass themselves off as masters of fiscal prudence. Put it
    this way — how will they reconcile (in the inevitable CPC attack ads) their claims of future
    skill managing Canada’s economy, with their inability and unwillingness to get their own
    party off of what Andrew Coyne has probably permanently characterized as “political dole”?

    seaandthemountains : perhaps you find an online poll unconvincing as a genuine measure
    of political support for the respective positions/parties. Try this one, then — the party that has
    the most success raising money from large numbers of donors, has the largest level of voter
    support. Pretty interesting proxy for electoral prospects, given the context, no?

  33. Incidentally, for those that think the political parties couldn’t rationalize the coalition? I’ll put their rationalization in four easy words:

    “The lesser of evils”

  34. Andrew quite reasonably asks:

    “Harper can run on the subsidy, and the Liberals can run on
    ‘I will save your job. Harper doesn’t care’ — Which will have
    greater resonance?”

    You’re right — that’s the probable pair of sales pitches. But I think National Unity will trump
    The Jobs Thing — because the Liberals are hardly in a position (given the hideous financial
    disarray of their own party) to pass themselves off as masters of fiscal prudence. Put it
    this way — how will they reconcile (in the inevitable CPC attack ads) their claims of future
    skill managing Canada’s economy, with their inability and unwillingness to get their own
    party off of what Andrew Coyne has probably permanently characterized as “political dole”?

    Moreover, this issue is immediate, and although the economy has caused a lot of fear, it has
    not yet caused a lot of pain — so the economy continues, in some sense, to be an issue for
    another day.

    seaandthemountains : perhaps you find an online poll unconvincing as a genuine measure
    of political support for the respective positions/parties. Try this one, then — the party that has
    the most success raising money from large numbers of donors, has the largest level of voter
    support. Pretty interesting proxy for electoral prospects, given the context, no?

  35. Dear Cribqueen:

    I don’t see any way that a fourth election in four and a half years, especially when the issue, in the midst of serious global peril, is partisan subsidy, gets people raring to vote, except perhaps against those who pulled the plug (particularly given that they will still be led by the man who helped keep over 800, 000 Liberal voters home last time out).

    Honestly. There is NO lose here for Harper, though there may yet be for the Canadian people, when the TSX goes back in to freefall by a further destabilizing election in the middle of threatening global Depression. But, hey, it’s only $ 300M, right, and we know the moment is ripe for spending of that sort.

    Good Lord. They might as well campaign on the fact that Harper hasn’t filled vacant Senate seats with Liberal judges yet.

  36. DM: One might also wonder if the Libs, NDP and Bloc are considering getting in bed together, that CPC hardball and an election call might cause Rae and Leblanc to withdraw, and make Ignatieff the de facto leader? I’m sure Ignatieff could strike a deal along the lines of:

    “We can’t win with Dion and the party will be a lesser prize after the fight. If I can lead the party to victory then you will have your pick of cabinet positions, and if I fail, we can start the race anew, as it is barely underway.”

  37. Why would Harper back down?

    Because people are outraged? He knew they’d be outraged.

    Because he’s scared of an election? He can’t be as scared as the other guys.

    He’s not a dumb guy. I can’t believe he’s gotten this far and is now, suddenly, going to freak out. Nothing’s happened that he couldn’t have predicted when they first contemplated this.

  38. First, the Conservatives are going to back down and say that at least they were willing to put their money where their mouthes were when it came to fiscal restraint unlike those greedy Opposition parties. Second, all the Opposition parties will vote against the update. Third, enough Liberal MPs will not show up so they don’t accidently make Dion PM while they are fighting a leadership. It’s the boringest possible outcome which means it’s probably the most likely.

  39. The threat of losing the subsidy is probably the one single thing that could make all other three parties work together.

    And if there’s an election, everyone can point out that Harper didn’t believe there would be an economic downturn.

    Once again, it’s foolish to bet against Mr. Wells.

  40. anchovies:

    no, actually.

    1) this was not an election issue, thus a past election provides little if any evidence on this issue; 2) while the CPC has its entrenched supporters, we don’t know how much of the support they revcieved in the last election is solidly behind them; 3) more people stayed home then voted for the CPC.

    in short, support in the last election tells us nothing.

    Also, your claim of cross-contaminate hypocrisy “How will the Libs explain voting to continue a subsidy for the BQ to TROC?” is also logically unsound.

    The explanation is simple: ‘We may not like the Bloc and what they stand for, and we are certainly not going to provide them an inch for a separatist agenda, but they were democratically elected and democracy is not always about getting want you want (nudge nudge wink wink Stevie H). We are willing to work them on the following limited agenda items we agree on: X Y Z. The money allocated them is a direct reflection of the number of people who voted for them, we, not the CPC, are the only party that can reduce that come next election*.’

    *The election did make that clear. I suppose the NDP could too. BUt thanks to SH and TF the CPC are done in Quebec.

    we have no evidence that part of that support is solidly behnd the CPC; the voter support is

  41. Upon further reflection Anchovies…

    perhaps it best to reverse your logic on its head. So where you say:

    The party that has the most success raising money from large numbers of donors, has the largest level of voter support. Pretty interesting proxy for electoral prospects, given the context, no?

    Is it not more appropriate to ask:

    The party that has the most success raising money from large numbers of donors, had the 28% of potential voter support in the last election. Pretty interesting proxy for electoral prospects, given the context, no?

    And just to be clear I am inferring if the only party that is strongly behind this has only 28% support, I’d say there is a lot room for opposing it, if you though the last election a good proxy (my position clearly stated above.)

  42. Rumour around HoC is that Harper is going to back down tomorrow.

    There was a big fight this evening on a conference call, where Harper accused his staff of a severe miscalculation.

    Harper, Kory et al. are still of the position that they cannot back down or else it will set a bad precedent for the rest of the session, thinking the Libs or BQ will capitulate at the last minute.

    Someone else over at Finance said that word has come down that they will pull the public financing clause before the vote on monday, but they may hold it off until the last minute to see if anyone blinks first.

    From what I can gather, people at OLO and PMO are both unsure of where this is going. A lot of nervous souls in the OT tonight.

  43. But–maybe I need speaking to like a stoopid–why would the Tories back down on this? Forgive me if I go all Brando, but honestly, what IS their motivation? I cannot see one. Right now, we’re looking at a Parliament sitting just over a week, an economy on the brink, and an issue which is about taxpayers underwriting partisan activities. This is what the Opposition parties propose to roll the electoral dice on–and the serious risk for Harper is what? The only risk for him at this point is to cave, it seems to me. Show me the argument–and no, assuming all right thinking people know him to be an evil Machiavel and can’t wait to oust him, October’s election notwithstanding, DOESN’T count as argument–for this being in Harper’s interest, or for HIS being most fearful of another election. For me, this is math that doesn’t add up any way I try to figure it.

  44. Cutting the per vote subsidy doesn’t make any tactical sense.

    It seems like the same error with the arts funding cuts and the losses in Quebec.

    Such a tiny amount of money saved. People might agree with the idea in general – if the CTV poll is accurate. Those people who don’t like the move will get worked up over it and it could become *the* issue.

    I believed in Harper’s tactical acumen up to this last election. Not quite sure how the cuts to the voting subsidy play into the Conservative’s hands.

  45. Whatever happened to Wells first law? All the Tories have to do is move faster.

    Typically implementation bills appear weeks later. By tabling one pronto to wipe out the Liberal/Green/Bloc bake sale they give the Libs cover to keep a few back for the update vote.

    Then the Tories agree to full committee after 1st reading (instead of 2nd). The Tories get half the loaf there or canisters of committee footage that keep on giving.

    Meanwhile the House is out for Christmas and comes back to view the Obama-Flaherty simulcast Michi-tario rescue budget. Did anyone really believe that Canada was crazy enough not to get full credit for our 10% ante when job counts get tied to $?

  46. DM: You and others make a good and obvious point: an election would be bad for the country right now. So if you’re a reasonable, responsible PM who’s looking out first and foremost for the interests of your country, why the hell would you pull a stunt like this with full knowledge that it might very well result in an election, i.e., unless the opposition parties are willing to slit their own throats? The answer is that you’re not reasonable or responsible. You’re looking out solely for your party and yourself, and the hope that you can run your competitors into the ground.

    Entertaining? Sure, if this is your kind of thing. Smart politics? It remains to be seen. But surely unconscionable.

  47. Harper back down?

    Why?

    Some here seem to be under the delusion that the others are operating from a position of strength.

    Either Dion backs down, and his party is decimated financially over the medium term, or

    Dion doesn’t back down and his party is decimated financially and electorally in the immediate future.

    The Libs have no organization, no money, not even a leader, and they’ll vote down Harper and risk going to the polls, now?

    The beauty of it is, they just may have to, to stave off the medium term financial oblivion. There’s a reason why the Con blogs are giddy right now, and the Lib blogs are freaking out.

  48. Paul Wells,

    what’s next,

    a predictive post on you getting a massive raise?

    Maybe being awarded a pulitzer?

  49. My prediction: Dion’s head is going to explode.

    There is just too much hatred, exasperation, and frustration for a head of such small volume.

    When this occurs, it will be said that Harper pulled a Kirk.

  50. Paul, is your short version a crystal-ball application of your first law, or is it based on some inside info?

    I know Harper backed down over the most minor of arts funding slowdown during the election, but geez it would be nice if he stood for a conservative principle once in a while. I don’t quite see the downside politically for Harper. The opposition parties want to tantrum into an election over this? And they think Harper loses in the court public opinion? Leave aside the discussion of how much a political party should raise, and leave aside the debate of who should pay them. Will the average voter really blame the Tories for starving all political parties? Or will they cheer them? Do we seriously think the opposition parties get cheered on for potentially forcing another election?

  51. Short response Why should we believe you, and why did you waste your time posting this?

  52. MYL

    it technically might not work a cleanly as that.

    it could amount to Harper holds fast; opposition holds fast and defeats the government; Harper would seek dissolution and an election; the opposition, if we are to believe the news etc., get their act together and forms a coalition; the GG asks the leader of that coalition if they could hold the confidence of the House; they could; and thus they form government.

    In other words, if Harper holds fast and the opposition does, he will likely not get the election… he will simply lose power. thus, as Paul says, he has to blink.

  53. The more I think about it, the more I think Harper cannot back down. Does the opposition want to force an election because they have been cut off from the taxpayer trough? The opposition has no cards.

  54. seaandthemountains,

    I am sure the Liberals would get a chance to hobble together confidence. I just don’t see them succeeding in the medium term, if at all, and thus the election cometh.

  55. My theory is he never intended to push this through. He wanted a poison pill so the opposition could get outraged, and then when he pulls it back he can say he did it to save the country the cost of an election, but look how greedy those opposition parties are, demanding tax dollars during such tough economic times.

    He keeps his subsidy, and he gets to point fingers at the opposition.

    The problem is the opposition is signalling this is about the lack of a financial stimulus. If they stand firm, Harper either has to back down on that as well or he could lose the government.

  56. I think the argument that the taxpayer-paid tithe to bona fide political parties that is based on number of people voting for whichever party VERSUS Harper and Flaherty’s stance of politicians sucking off the public teat, to be the fly in the ointment. However would either of those two go where they are today without it? And how can Canadians be assured that political activism and new ideas that enough people want to vote for is protected.

    Seems to me that Harper/Flaherty have decided that ordinary Canadian shall be forced to think only one way. If they think the other, they are on their own in this great country even when a goodly sum think the ideas are worthy. Think about it: Canada has decided some while ago that funding personal votes to the tune of $1.75 (less than a cup of coffee these days) is a hat tip and a boon to free thought and free expression.

    That Harper/Flaherty would use this freedom torch as a baton to beat down opposition from any quarter makes your average Canadian (this one anyway) wonder why this instead of the myriad other issues a real government would be wanting to address.

    Parliamentarians and Canadians have decided that it is a good thing to allow/foster views other than its own, and recognize individual Canadians who vote with a paltry $1.75 if they actually get off their duffs and make an X for some bozo. Seems a fair deal, considering the taxes same individual Canadians pay just to get up in the morning.

    Why is Harper attacking this?

    Seems like Harper keeps wanting to reinvent the wheel in his own image, and convince his populace that it is a new thing. All other ideas based on the wheel are suddenly suspect and subject to Harper’s improvements.

    Comes a time when a man’s reach exceeds his grasp. Perhaps it is time for Harper to go on to better ideas. Face it man, the wheel is here to stay. It’s round. Period.

    Has Harper run out of ideas? Or is he waiting for someone to come clear the crud out from under his exercise wheel?

  57. I honestly love Jarrid’s comments.
    Fish swimming around in a fishbowl – can’t hear what is being said on the outside.
    Harper’s silly games have done more to unite the opposition parties than casual backroom chats over the last 2 years have done.
    Harper doesn’t get it any more than Jarrid does!
    And he won’t be able to spin it to make the opposition the fall guys either.
    Even a total backtrack doesn’t work for him.
    He’s dead in the water!
    And Iggy’s cynical opportinistic grab (via Stephen McKinnon) has done so much damage to HIS cause that he’s probably going to be on the outside looking in too…

  58. He’ll back down because it’d be much more interesting if he didn’t.

  59. Okay, y’all, is nobody else freaked out by the sudden return of the Kody? If that doesn’t bode ill for the lifespan of this particular parliament, I don’t know what would. (And welcome back, Kody! We’ve missed you!)

  60. I love how both sides of this issue know what public opinion is going to be.

    Harperites: Everyone will love this because the public is always in favour of political parties getting less money!

    Non-Harperites: Everyone will hate this because it makes Harper look petty and vindictive. The Liberals will form a government under Stephane Dion!

    I think it’s pretty clear that neither side can say with certainty what the outcome will be. That said, there are three points I’d like to make here.
    1) The public in general already sees Harper has petty/vindictive/mean. It hurts him, but less than you’d think (he won the last election with those public perceptions).
    2) Can anyone honestly see a scenario where Stephane Dion could a) win an election campaign or b) hold together an inherently devisive coalition government, particularly when he couldn’t even hold together his inherently-divisive-but-to-a-smaller-degree party?
    3) I asked my wife what she thought of this story as we listened to CBC radio in the car. She barely follows politics (she knows Liberals are left and Conservatives are right, but that’s about it) and she defaults to neutral (and she dislikes Harper), and her response was “political parties should get less money”. Now, it’s just an anecdote and not reflective of a trend one way or another, but she had that reaction after a CBC report, and after I reiterated that it was basically just a slap at the opposition. She shrugged and maintained her opinion.

  61. Before the last election, the Liberal Party borrowed $2 million from the bank at 9 % interest. Part of the collateral for that loan was the $1.95 subsidy they would get after the election. If nothing else, Harper’s move will make it almost impossible for the Liberals to get a bank loan on the same kind of terms.

  62. the Bloc gets squeezed on their funding, that’s something all Canadians can rally around.

    Obviously Jarrid’s definition of Canadian doesn’t include the 2 million or so that voted for the Bloc.

    I happened to catch Stephen Taylor on tv last night while flipping around the channels and he and another rightwing talking head were badgering some liberal about this. It’s outrageous that Canadians are supporting a separatist party with their tax dollars they were braying at the liberal. I couldn’t help notice the similarity with another issue that came up not so long ago. Remember the little nugget hidden in Bill C-10 and the howls from conservatives that it was outrageous that Canadians are funding offensive movies with their tax dollars.

    A clear pattern is emerging with this government and its supporters. They see themselves as sole arbiters of what is and isn’t acceptable in this country. Movies, political ideology, who is and isn’t a Canadian (think back to the Israel-Lebanon war and the outrage kicked off because Canadians with duel citizenship were being helped with their tax dollars) and the list goes on and on.

    I don’t ever recall any other government acting in such a manner and it’s a very disturbing trend that needs to be squashed every time it raises its ugly head.

  63. Robert: Nah, every government has a “father knows best mentality”. The famous “beer and popcorn” statement made by Martin’s staffer is a prime example; people are too stupid to know what to do with money, which is why the government needs to spend it for them.

    It isn’t a good tendency, and the Conservatives are throwing themselves at it with abandon, but it’s hardly unique to them.

    That said, as a political reality – outside of Quebec, where does taking money away from the Bloc play badly? It’s a distinctly Canadian thing – propping up a party with tax dollars whose primary reason for existence is separation from said country. In theory, I completely agree with your take that they are representing Canadians and are as deserving as money as any other party, but as for reality, taking money from the Bloc will play well everywhere except Quebec.

  64. Harper has gone “all in”.

    The Liberals should defeat the government, and force an election with Jean Chretien as an interim leader.

  65. “The famous “beer and popcorn” statement made by Martin’s staffer is a prime example; people are too stupid to know what to do with money, which is why the government needs to spend it for them.”

    Oh, please. All that statement meant was that the baby bonus would only cover trivial expenses. And it turned out to be true. In fact, it doesn’t even cover beer and popcorn.

    …Anyhoo…

  66. Jonathon – did you tell your wife that taxpayers will still be funding political parties in the form of those generous tax rebates we get for political donations?

  67. I really don’t understand why people think Harper will back down. Surely they knew what was coming when the first thought about eliminating public funding for parties. Everyone thinks because the oppp are united the Cons will back down but I am not certain. Harper has put himself between a rock and a hard place because the Con base are quite happy with the proposal to stop financing political parties and how will they react if they Cons drop it? How many times can the Cons kick their base in the nuts and not a expect a reaction? If Harper really does have a plan to make the Cons the natural governing party a coalition government between Libs and BQ, after voting to bring down the party with the most votes six weeks after an election, would be very helpful indeed.

    And if the oppo brings down the government, there are two outcomes, coalition government or election. Coalition government means Libs and NDP in bed with BQ, it’s pure sophistry to talk of coalition between Lib/NDP with BQ as not part of the deal but supporting the new government, or there is an election. If there is an election, Libs need a really good reason to have brought down the government. All this talk of stimulus spending is nonsense – the Libs are going to propose spending our way out of a recession and the Cons will point to Rae’s tenure as Premier and say that you can’t spend your way out of a recession and point to Bob’s more recent comments about how he learned that you can’t spend your way out of a recession.

  68. “Obviously Jarrid’s definition of Canadian doesn’t include the 2 million or so that voted for the Bloc.”

    1,379,991. A stone’s throw from the Greens, actually.

  69. Gayle – I did, actually. It bothers me as much as anyone that if you donate to a charity and a political party, you get a better break by virtue of the political contribution.

  70. Harper is not going to want to be midwife to a new era of coalition politics that will relegate the Conservatives to permanent opposition status.

    The dorks in the Conservative brain trust that hatched this plan will be sacrificed. It was a huge tactical blunder.

  71. If the reports are true, it would appear that both Duceppe and Layton have claimed that they wouldn’t form/support a coalition govt with Dion as PM.

    Does anyone know why? Of Iggy, Rae and Leblanc, Dion is the most likeminded option for the NDP and the Bloc. He is the most leftwing option.

    Why would they have a problem with him?

  72. Ti-Guy: If that’s what he meant, why didn’t he say “formula and diapers”? Works out to the same thing, doesn’t it?

    Here’s the full quote:

    “Don’t give people 25 bucks a week to blow on beer and popcorn,” Reid said during a panel discussion on CBC News: Sunday. “Give them child-care spaces that work. Stephen Harper’s plan has nothing to do with child care.”

    I think the use of the word blow, Reid’s subsequent apology, and Martin’s statement that “There’s no doubt in my mind that parents are going to use (the money) for the benefit of their families,” pretty much mean that Reid was implying that parents would waste the money. Don’t you?

  73. The principle of charity demands that a particular expression be evaluated with the assumption that the speaker is well-intentioned. I know that’s completely lost on most people these days, who go out of their way to assume some big bad elitist meany is talking down to them.

    Some people really need to toughen up. The point is, the Baby Bonus was useless. Case closed.

  74. “The principle of charity demands that a particular expression be evaluated with the assumption that the speaker is well-intentioned.”

    Out of curiosity, doesn’t that apply across the board? Couldn’t some Conservative hack come remind us that the party is only “trying to set an example in these tough economic times” and that “30 million may be a drop in the bucket but it’s symbolic of the political parties commitment to belt-tighten”?

    If that seems ludicrous, it’s because it is. But then, when looking out on the world through the rosy glasses of partisan fervour, doesn’t everything from one side seem sensible and everything from the other seem wrong? Enlighten us, Ti-Guy.

  75. “Couldn’t some Conservative hack come remind us that the party is only “trying to set an example in these tough economic times” and that “30 million may be a drop in the bucket but it’s symbolic of the political parties commitment to belt-tighten”?”

    I happen to believe I’m in the possession of enough information to believe that these “Conservatives” are generally not well-intentioned (remember…everyone else but them is a unemployed bum leeching of the hard work of families who pay their taxes and play by the rules). Besides, this *is* a drop in the bucket and has only served to destabilise the government, which is a boneheaded move in perilous times.

  76. Ok, isn’t the convention that the GG would turn to the Leader of the Opposition and ask him/her if they could form a government? That is the first person the GG is obliged to turn to.

    If that person refuses the option, then we’re into grey area. If the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t feel they can command the confidence of the House, it’s hardly logical for the GG, following parliamentary convention, to believe that anyone else would be able to. Thus would follow an election.

    Once Harper resigns, and Dion refuses, and the GG orders an election, it’s not as though the opposition can then say “oh nevermind”. An election will happen.

  77. Isn’t there a difference between a Prime Minister going to the GG and asking Parliament to be dissolved, and the Government being defeated on a confidence measure?

    I thought that if the PM asks, the GG could ask if anyone else could form a government, but if the Gov loses a confidence vote, its an automatic election.

    No?

  78. Harper has made a massive tactical blunder.

    In the short term Harper will back down, but the seed has been planted regarding the funding issue in the minds of the opposition. For them it’s a death sentence.

    They will bide their time and take down the government at some point. By then Chrysler will be bankrupt ( G.M. possibly too) , life in Ontario will be miserable.

    Desperate times calls for desperate measures. The 3 centre left parties in English Canada unite under a coalition ” We have to save the country from financial oblivion banner” Strange. Perhaps, but I never thought I’d see the day where Republicans would nationalize banks either.

    This would be a disaster for the Blue. In the last election, about 45-50 conservative seats were won on the centre- left vote split, take this out of the equation ( and oddly maintain the Bloc hold on Quebec) and we’re talking a centre-left , blame Alberta for our woes, majority government.

    Harper, may have well been too cute in all of his machinations.

  79. “about 45-50 conservative seats were won on the centre- left vote split,”

    Why do people continue to think that blue grits would prefer to support a coalition with Jack Layton to supporting the Conservatives? People in the 905 are allergic to the NDP. Their 2nd vote preference is Conservative. If the grits form an alliance with the NDP, they can write off the 905 and other surburban ridings across the country.

  80. I’m sure there are examples out there in countries where coalition gov’t is the norm, but I still would say it’s a rare occurence that the senior party in a governing coalition would not even have over a quarter of the seats in the legislature, nevermind half!!! 77/308 is a dead-on 25%.

    Explicitly needing the Bloc’s support should be a five-alarm danger sign to any federalist politician. They are a restless party, and you can be assured that they will only go along for the ride for so long before exacting big concessions for their continued support … and the lib/ndp gov’t in this case will be so deathly afraid to face the electorate after such a brazen grab for power, that they would likely give in to them (remember the Martin gov’t in its death throes? This would be worse).

    Even the combined Lib/NDP numbers would be the smallest government in our history (37%).

    No comparison to the Peterson/Rae pact in Ontario in 1985 holds. There, Peterson had actually won the popular vote, and only 4 seats less than the Frank Miller’s PC’s. The Libs/NDP there garnered 61.7% of the vote, and won 58% of the seats. The Libs/NDP of today garnered only 44% in the last vote (quick question: has there ever been another coalition government formed, in any other Western democracy, ever, that didn’t together garner a majority of the popular vote in the previous election?), and only 37% of the seats!!!

    Any such Lib/NDP coalition gov’t, if it happens, will shatter all precedents!! Let’s remember, that when Byng caused a constitutional crisis in 1926 by calling on the Conservatives to form a gov’t after MacKenzie-King resigned, he was calling on a party that had actually won 17 more seats and 6% more support (46% in total) in the previous election!!!

  81. “People in the 905 are allergic to the NDP. ”

    Perhaps. This is why it probably would have to be an Iggy led Liberal-NDP / Green coalition with emphasis on his ” centerist” ideology.

    I know many people in the 905. if every second business is closing around them, I really doubt they’d cast their lot in with the governing right wing party who rightly/wrongly will be blamed for the economic malaise.

  82. I love this country….why is my tax dollars going to a party who stated goal is to “separate from Canada”…political parties should rely on donations from Canadians which means having grass root support and having a ground game….sound familiar yes BARACK OBAMA used that same model……if conservatives, liberals, ndp or greens want my support i will listen to their ideas and whichever agrees with my personal beliefs i will given they my vote and if they want a donation i will consider it….i don’t want tax payer money involved….that’s the democratic way i CHOOSE whether to donate or not….

  83. Canada. Home of the first coalition minority government in modern Western political history.

    Coalition minority … isn’t that an oxymoron? Isn’t the whole purpose of coalition government to gain majority support? Surely the gallery will come up with an appropriate analogy.

  84. apparently they kind of already backed down by taking it out of the ways and means motion on Monday. Now I know that taking away the right to strike (for public servants) is to be in a piece of legislation but I’m still surprised that the parties have said little on that issue. They look incredibly petty to be focussed on the subsidy issue.

  85. I was napping..is Harper gone now? Is Dion PM?