If there were an annual worst headline award, The Sun would probably win pretty much every year. Today’s paper screamed “‘Enormous’ fraud at City Hall”It makes it sound as though the city council or mayor has been caught doing something corrupt or frau…Continue reading
Canadians are filled with optimism and excitement in anticipation of the visit by non other than the grand-pumba himself, U.S. President Barack Obama. Many Americans across the United States are filled with optimism and hope that their new President is…Continue reading
Now I’ve always known that Stephen Harper was lacking when it came to foresight. His in-action on environment, denial of a recession etc are all good enough indicators that he’s more concerned with immediate political gain than he is about actually analyzing a situation and contemplating the possible outcomes ofContinue reading
So according to the 2001 census as reported today by CBC radio one, the average earnings for someone who made their living from the arts was $22,000 dollars annually. Not only that, but since then it has decreased by a third, to $14,000 dollars per year. These figures are evenContinue reading
That’s what Andrew Coyne wrote about today. Basically he said that the Harper governments decision to spend so much and go into a deficit is the last straw, and that they now have failed to uphold any fiscal Conservative values. All of which could have been a lot less seriousContinue reading
I continue to be concerned with what I once called digital cultural amnesia. Though in reflecting on the word “amnesia” I no longer think it’s the best way to express the problem. Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, writes about the phenomenon in The Observer. Too many ofContinue reading
The extraordinary David Brooks, a must read of mine, describes some of the big plans that Obama has in store for the near future. They’re both audacious, and hopeful. Let no one say that Obama doesn’t deliver the style of Presidency he promised 2 years…Continue reading
Amanda Henry muses on the issue of whether development work should be turned into a business, or whether it should remain a charitable, largely selfless activity. (Amanda also calls herself a "starry-eyed idealist" which I think does not do herself justice: an idealist she may be, but anyone willing to admit complete uncertainty because of the nuances of this debate is not "starry-eyed".)…Continue reading
Happy Festivus. I have grievances to air about Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Stephen Harper has become just like his predecessors. On foreign policy, he has lost the moral foreground leaving a suspected Canadian terrorist, Khadr, to the U.S. and their…Continue reading
It seems that everyone and their monkey are on Facebook these days. Recent stats show that Facebook is growing at a rate of 600,000 new users each day, swelling the network to over 140 million active users. For nonprofits, these numbers represent an increasingly huge opportunity to get the word out about your cause. If […]Continue reading
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself And falls on the other. – William Shakespeare, Macbeth Health care reform has always been extraordinarily difficult in the U.S.—we saw how Bill Clinton fared with it. Big reforms in general are difficult: Bus…Continue reading
With the last of Michael Ignatieff’s rivals dropping out of the race, he is now all but certain to ascend to the leadership. The Liberal Party will, it is widely agreed, now have a stronger and more credible leader to take on Harper come this fall. Ins…Continue reading
The Conservatives just can’t seem to get enough of eating their own words. “The brutal fact here is that something has happened that has never happened before in Canadian history,” Mr. Day, the current Conservative Minister of Trade, said on CTV Newsnet on Tuesday. “And that is two federal leadersContinue reading
So let’s do a little comparative analysis: Number 1: David Warren calls a possible coalition a “Thai-style coup d’état”. Now as much as I like the guy, I don’t think Dion could fool anyone into thinking he was the commander of a ruthless army. And last time I checked noContinue reading
Another point of paranoia on the right. For those worried that the Bloc Quebecois’ support of the opposition coalition will lead to the break up of the nation or another referendum on Quebec sovereignty; exhale, there is no need to stockpile water, ammunition and canned goods. There is nothing thatContinue reading
Another point of paranoia on the right.
For those worried that the Bloc Quebecois’ support of the opposition coalition will lead to the break up of the nation or another referendum on Quebec sovereignty; exhale, there is no need to stockpile water, a…Continue reading
I guess it takes extraordinary events to bring me out of retirement.
Listening to talk radio, reading blue blogs, one would think Canada is facing an unprecedented crisis that threatens to bring down the nation. As overblown hyperbole and rhetoric are the stock in trade of these media, it is not surprising to hear terms like treason and coup d’etat, hijacking the government, etc. thrown around. But let’s be reasonable. There is no constitutional crisis. There may be a political crisis, particularly for Conservatives, but the constitution anticipates these situations and in other parliamentary systems and commonwealth nations around the world, these situations are commonplace and in some cases, even the norm.
Many are saying that Canadians elected a Conservative government and that the proposed actions of Stephan Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe would somehow usurp the will of the people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Canadians did not elect a Conservative government, or any government. They elected (413 – oops 308) individual Members of Parliament, 143 of whom were members of the Conservative Party of Canada. As a result of the CPC numbers in Parliament, the Governor General, in keeping with the Constitution and traditions of Parliament, asked Mr. Harper to form a government; which he did. As it now seems that Prime Minister Harper’s government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, it falls to the Governor General, with the advice of the Prime Minister, her own conscience, and the any constitutional law experts she may seek out, to either dissolve Parliament or ask the opposition parties to form a government that may be better able to hold the confidence of the House of Commons.
What shouldn’t be lost in the rhetoric are the points that brought us to this extraordinary (for Canada) situation.
Federal budgets provide the primary planning framework for the government of Canada and to a great extent set the parliamentary agenda. The last federal budget was brought down (I believe) in late February. Since then we have experienced a slow grinding recession which accelerated in the summer and fall into a full blown global financial crisis. There was a banking sector bail package passed back in October – but even this was not planned response to the financial crisis by the Government of Canada, but was a global G-20 initiative. Also since the last federal budget we have had a federal election, a throne speech, a new cabinet, new Parliament and a US federal election. In other words, the environment in which the last major planning framework for the Government of Canada was crafted has changed dramatically. The assumptions, projections and data are no longer valid. If Prime Minister Harper thinks that Canada can run without a new financial plan for another 2 or 3 or more months, he is so out of touch that he doesn’t deserve to be PM. Prior to the last election, PM Harper said that Parliament was dysfunctional. The petty, vindictive and self serving attempts to financially ruin the opposition parties and remove collective bargaining leverage from public sector works is simply an exclamation point to this statement. Clearly the dysfunction has not been remedied by an election and is unlikely to be remedied by another election. Maybe it’s time for the opposition parties to see if they can make Parliament work again.
Finally, these types of situations – minority governments and coalitions going forward very well may be the norm, rather than exceptional circumstances. Both the Conservatives and Liberals enjoy the support of about 25% of the voting public from their core or base constituents. The NDP and Bloc enjoy the “core” support of somewhere around 10% each with about 30% of voters being either “soft” supporters of the CPC, Liberals, NDP or Bloc or swing voters. As it takes close to 40% of the popular vote to form a majority government, a majority government is not impossible, with these numbers, unless the NDP and Liberals merge, one is unlikely.
The events of this last week have shown that the political parties have not fully appreciated this new reality nor adjusted their tactics and strategies in response. It is also going to take the public some time to come to terms with this reality. An election is not going to solve this. As the parties adjust we may see consolidation on the left OR more formal coalition agreements. As the voters adjust, we may see more strategic voting.Continue reading
I guess it takes extraordinary events to bring me out of retirement. Listening to talk radio, reading blue blogs, one would think Canada is facing an unprecedented crisis that threatens to bring down the nation. As overblown hyperbole and rhetoric are the stock in trade of these media, it isContinue reading
In my last post, I said that I was wrong about Dion’s political strategy in the last election. It turns out that while I wasn’t exactly right, I also wasn’t wrong. I’d imagined a scenario in which the conservatives were unable to win a majority, thus putting us back inContinue reading
Today’s news conference with the new coalition triumvirate illustrated that social democrats can work together on specific principle-based issues. The presence of Gilles Duceppe was critical. In each of the last elections, M. Duceppe has invariably impressed me in the debates. I dispute him on the separatism issue but IContinue reading