Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Harper's Election

I note the Conservatives have already released some kind of amateurish ad about Ignatieff forcing an election. It really is a bit odd to have a government who ultimately CONTROLLED their own destiny lamenting an election, they EASILY could have avoided. One simple fact, in a minority government, non confidence is a testament to the government's inability to secure majority support. All the more a government failing, when one tallies up the objectively understood reasonable, even small, demands from one party to secure their vote and survive.

Flaherty said the government doesn't operate this way, they don't negotiate on their budget document. That is complete and utter arrogance, but the statement also suggests NEGOTIATION prior to the budget. Can the Finance Minister produce his phone bill so we can track calls to the LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION? How many meeting did the Finance Minister have with Scott Brison, Tom Muclair? Where is this negotiating process prior the budget, where is this justification to now throw up your hands and say "we tried, but"? NO, what we have is a brief meeting with Harper, with the FOURTH party, no meeting with Ignatieff, no meeeting with Duceppe, basically a "negotiation" based on what is published in newspapers.

Compare and contrast with the last Liberal minority, and you will see what is required to pass a budget in this Parliamentary context. It is not a preference, it is a MUST to extend a hand to an opposition party, the democratic makeup means you control NOTHING alone! The Conservatives simply don't understand this reality, they don't understand our system, they snub the democratic will and just operate as though we gave them a majority. This budget process is symptomatic of the entire problem with the Harper government, the same rationale that explains withholding costs, shutting down Parliament, redacting legally required documents, etc, etc. Rather than an indictment on the opportunistic election, really we go to the polls because the Harper government simply lacks the capacity to "play well with others". Layton and the NDP were available, and you failed to secure their support, despite an easy swallow. What does that say about the government?

This is Harper's election, this is about a government that doesn't understand basic math, is so arrogant that they don't feel the need to operate with the democratic restraints. This is Harper government which has betrayed every core tenet of the old Reform Party, they piss on the populus roots and behave more like a despot than a democrat. This is Harper's election, it's all about Steve. If Canadians are upset we are going to the polls yet again, if they are sick of the poisonous atmosphere, you don't send back the culprit, you kick his ass to the curb.

36 comments:

Jerry Prager said...

They understand the system, they just happen to hate it, liberal democracy, not the Liberal Party is the biggest enemy here: corporatism is an executive system, parliament is collegial.

Steve V said...

The party most able to avoid an election isn't the Liberals or the NDP or the Bloc, it's the one that controls the purse strings and sits in government. If their budget falls, when reasonable alternatives existed, it is their fault primarily. Period.

Sean Cummings said...

I don't see anything different with how this election has been crafted. All governments, Liberal or Conservative bring about an election based on when their greatest chance for electoral success will be. Chretien, for example, called a snap election within days of Stockwell Day entering the House of Commons, so really, voters aren't stupid - they know this is standard operating procedure for whoever is calling the shots in Ottawa.

Steve V said...

Except your example is a majority?

Sean Cummings said...

Doesn't matter if it's a majority or a minority Parliament. The governing party almost always tries to go to the polls when they're in the best position to win another election. For a minority government, the goal is to get to that elusive majority. Yesterday's budget is a campaign budget. At the end of the day, I suspect most voters will forget why they're going to the polls and focus on whose platform is most attractive to them. I suspect most voters just shrug their shoulders and exercise their civic duty. The mechanics of why an election has happened probably doesn't register with most people because most people are disengaged from the political process and only become interested at election time.

Steve V said...

Actually it does, when the entire premise of this post is operating in the constraints of a minority, democratic expression :)

Jerry Prager said...

This minoritarian tyranny is also why Ignatieff needs to be addressing the loose coalition of liberal democratic VOTERS, the ones who have voted against Harper three times in a row, and who have sustained the very existence of liberal democracy in Canada since defeating RB Bennett's corporatist government in 1935's. This is a now or never election, and the Harpercon's can pretend to be middle of the road all they want, whenever they want, the truth is in the record: this is just one more Con.

Sean Cummings said...

Steve, you wrote:
>>Actually it does, when the entire premise of this post is operating in the constraints of a minority, democratic expression :) <<

Do you want to know what they're talking about in Saskatchewan this morning? The fact that most of the highways are closed because of yesterday's spring snow storm. They're talking about the fact that gas is $1.19 and wondering if winter is ever going to end.

Respectfully, the only people who are concerned with the mechanics of why an election has come about are political junkies like you and me, the news media who have only been reporting on when the next election will be since the last election, pundits, partisans and the people who are going to be banging on doors for the next six weeks.

I suspect that most people will tune into the fact there's an election in a couple of weeks. They'll look at who is running, what they are offering in the way of a platform, they might watch the debates and then on election night they will cast their vote.

It's going to be a fun few weeks. I predict the Tory war room will put out the mother of all blunders that makes pooping puffins seem like a fart in the breeze by comparison. I think Elizabeth May won't get elected and I suspect we will have another minority government when this is all done.

Steve V said...

"Do you want to know what they're talking about in Saskatchewan this morning? The fact that most of the highways are closed because of yesterday's spring snow storm. They're talking about the fact that gas is $1.19 and wondering if winter is ever going to end."

Sean you don't need to point that out, remember I'm the guy who penned "We Don't Give A Shit" ;) I always try to look at "events" with your above clarification in mind.

Jerry Prager said...

Another weak link in the con plan is that they have hammered at Ignatieff so hard, expectations are so low, that once the election starts and people start paying attention, voters will see a man who is Harper's intellectual superior, and who was trained in a inclusive method of leadership. Ignatieff needs to show up on every campus in Canada.

thwap said...

I would qualify Sean Cummings' statement with the reminder that harper has behaved this way consistently since gaining power in 2006.

He has alway behaved as if he had a majority and has been enabled in his delusions.

Obviously, he felt no need to play well with others at this particular moment, but he never has.

Tof KW said...

They're talking about the fact that gas is $1.19 and wondering if winter is ever going to end.

OK I know I like to joke about the weather out on the prairies in winter (eg. Saskatchewan: derived from the Blackfoot phrase 'but the summers are nice'), but everybody knows what March is like. Cripes, do you really think the snows in Canada are done by March 23rd?

About gas @ $1.19/L ...we're an oil exporting nation, and every other oil-exporter has a national program to help people with this. You'd think the government could set up a program to offer petrol cheaper to our own citizens that would negate the world's commodity price fluctuations. You know, a national energy prog ...oh wait!!!

Sean, gas is still a bargain at $1.19/L, live anywhere outside Canada or the States to see where petrol prices really are these days.

These are really your only gripes about giving democracy it's day this May? Ask your average Libyan what they would do to see a free election in their country.

Sean Cummings said...

>>These are really your only gripes about giving democracy it's day this May? Ask your average Libyan what they would do to see a free election in their country.<<

Would you like a crown of thorns to go with your martyr's cloak?

If you're going to invoke Libya, Stephen Harper did suggest something along the lines of not having an opportunistic election (as if any election isn't opportunistic) given the crisis in Libya.

Just sayin...

Tof KW said...

Sean, this country has held elections in between both world wars and the Great Depression. We shouldn't hold one because of Libya?

Holy fuck that's lame! You and Harper are morons if you use that as your excuse. Also shows how you guys really don't want an election right now.

A Eliz. said...

If I am not wrong, there was nothing in that budget for Natives and water, nothing for Health Care, or childcare. I read someplace there was a freeze on monies for the CBC and the Canada Post.

Sean Cummings said...

TofKW wrote:

>>Sean, this country has held elections in between both world wars and the Great Depression. We shouldn't hold one because of Libya?

Holy fuck that's lame! You and Harper are morons if you use that as your excuse. Also shows how you guys really don't want an election right now.<<

You brought up Libya, not me. Do try to remember that the only people who are really following what's happening in Ottawa are pundits, partisans and politicians. Most people have a life.

Tof KW said...

I brought up Libya to show there are people out there who would risk their own life to fight for a government that's accountable to the people, and for free/fair elections.

You grumble about the snow and gas prices as a reason to not bother with democracy.

I'm showing how feeble your excuses are. Sorry that sailed past you, next time I'll type slower for ya! 'K?

Omar said...

Since the budget announcement yesterday, I've noticed a distinct refrain of the word 'coalition' being used along side the words 'Opposition' parties coming from the government. Particularly coming from Jim Flaherty who I've heard plenty of times fling the term Opposition Coalition around. In the past 24 hours it's just been the Opposition parties. I wonder if this is intentional? Perhaps trying to scare Canadians into fearing Liberal/socialist/separatist boogeymen is something that has run its course? That'd be nice.

Jerry Prager said...

Omar: Hard to extol the virtues of being in a military coalition when you bad mouth democratic coalitions all the time.

Omar said...

I thought about that, but then I thought, they're not that smart. I'm sure during the course of an election campaign the coalition slander will be back, but for the time being it is nice to not have to hear them conjure up that ridiculous and very stale canard.

Sean Cummings said...

>>You grumble about the snow and gas prices as a reason to not bother with democracy.

I'm showing how feeble your excuses are. Sorry that sailed past you, next time I'll type slower for ya! 'K?<<

I find it incredible how you can type a single word what with being nailed to a cross and all.

Tof KW said...

Omar - the Grits should respond in kind by referring to them as 'The Harper Regime'. Fight over-the-top with over-the-top.

---

Sean - I'm just trying to point out your arguments are underwhelming, and you shouldn't use these particular ones. Take from that what you will.

Really anyone is on a slippery slope when they argue that people shouldn't be allowed to express themselves via the ballot box. Shouldn't voters decide that?

Shiner said...

Entirely unrelated to everything, but I just have to say, watching CPAC online and EVERY TIME I hear Tim Powers speak, I become enraged. I despise that man. Moreover, I can't understand how anyone would think him a good PR hack, he is incredibly unlikeable.

Omar said...

Where is Prairie Kid with his "NO ONE CARES" mantra, laughing and telling everyone the Liberals are doomed in the upcoming election? Did you ban him, Steve?

Shiner said...

Iggy is looking good, I'm really looking forward to seeing him up against doughboy every day of the week. This is getting exciting, election should be a cracker.

Dylan said...

If Harper does not want an election and the Opposition does not support the budget, there is another alternative. Coalition LPC-NDP government that has budget support from the Bloc. Wouldn't that be a kick in the ass? Two years with Harper and then another two with the scary coalition?

If offered by the GG, it would be a deal I'd seriously consider.

Dylan said...

BTW, great post Steve. And you're bang on -- Harper is really putting up a false front on this budget acting as if they have swam the English Channel to get input from all the parties.

We hear this double speak constantly. At a press release Harper gets up to the mic and belches a message of "cooperation" and "governance" and "stability" adding "we don't want an election" to puncuate every sentence. Then he appears at a CPC nomination meeting or rally or private dinner and rattles his sabre shouting to his supporters that it is "majority or bust".

What else is new? Naw, that's a stupid question. A better question would be, is this double speak going to be reported by the media? Or will the MSM be lulled into the cozy "we're too fragile for an election" bullshit?

Shiner said...

Headlines tomorrow morning:
"Ignatieff Refuses to Rule out Coalition"

F*ck.

Steve V said...

Thanks Dylan


Shiner

Hey look, we are not avoiding this question and ruling out will look nonsensical in final days, if this plays out like a close election. We are going to discuss the coalition, and I think the Libs would be wise to draw on the British example, because Canadians understand the similarities.

Tof KW said...

I think the Libs would be wise to draw on the British example, because Canadians understand the similarities

Well it is the same Westminster-style Parliament after all. But you're right, most Canadians probably forget these small details; just like how they forget we don't actually elect prime ministers, or that the PM is not the head of state.

I think its a good thing the coalition bogeyman keeps getting mentioned, it means the Reformatories have little else, and voters are not shocked by this anymore and it will have minimal effect on the polls. It would be much more effective if the Harperbots kept this under their hats and brought it out 10-days prior to election day. At this point, the coalition is about as scary as sweaterboy's 'secret agenda'. Works on the hyperpartisans, but that's about it.

And in the mean time the Libs should keep shooting back with The Harper Regime. I noticed this being used a little lately, and I like it. Say it loud, say it often. The Harper Regime!

Shiner said...

I think you're right Steve, that is the best way to deal with it, but I doubt that's the way the Party will go. I predict "Ignatieff dodging coalition questions" becomes a meme of this election pretty damned quickly, some journalists are obsessed by it.

Kirk said...

Pity for Conservatives that the media's focus has all been on the NDP and how their decision is the one to trigger an election.

But never underestimate the power of lying in advertising.

Kirk said...

I also think that few people see an election as the horrendous burden that the Cons like to say it is.

It's won't matter who supposedly caused the election in a few days after it (officially) starts.

By the way if Harper is doing such a good job with the economy why is the economy too fragile to handle an election?

Tof KW said...

...why is the economy too fragile to handle an election?

As I pointed out before, we've held elections in the middle of both world wars and the Great Depression. It's a bullshit argument, but the CPC needs to do whatever it can to deflect from the ethics problems they're currently embroiled in. This election is coming at a time they don't wish, and beginning from a point where they are not in full control. Take that argument for what it is ...a sign of fear.

Steve V said...

CP story out, detailing how an election will keep interest rates low for a few months. Also, 190000 temporary workers are hired by Elections Canada. Yep, sounds like the economy will be threatened!

rockfish said...

If we survived that terrible exercise in 2008 brought on by the coali... oh right, that was Harper's call. And those dreaded coalitions -- not the 2004 version, and certainly not the current ones keeping things peaceful and operating in Great Britain and Australia. I think Harper's 'go negative' and hide-the-candidate should wear well over a full 38-day campaign. Maybe it can help lower turnout to 35%? He's such a patron saint for democracy, Mr Prorogue is. Between him, his psychic dresser and Carsononi's hooker, this election could be interesting...