Friday, November 28, 2008


CANADIAN POLITICS:
HARPER FIDDLES THE 'CHICKEN SONG' WHILE THE ECONOMY BURNS:

Sneaky Stevie has actually "out-Bushed Bush", his older brother in neoconservatism. While the outgoing American President has pretty well restricted himself to making religious sounding sounds about the ultimate virtues of the free market along with trying to set as many legislative traps as possible to preserve the vested interests he represents from evisceration once he leaves office our own dear beloved leader has actually gone against the collective wisdom of both the consensus of world economists and other industrial nation governments by refusing to see the need to put forward a stimulus package. The federal Conservatives rather have put forward a "mini-budget" that goes in precisely the opposite direction by purporting to cut expenditures.




The cuts are, of course, trivial, but they are well chosen for maximum populist appeal. The tying og the refusal to "prime the pump" via increased expenditure to the proposition of abolishing the electoral subsidization of federal political parties via the "money for votes" provision of our electoral act is particularly brilliant. Even though the amount of money saved will be trivial it puts the opposition parties in an unenviable position of appearing to be advancing merely their own interests when they oppose the do-nothing Conservative "budget". This little addendum, of course, hardly belongs in a budget. Its inclusion is an obvious manipulation. Sneaky Stevie is, if nothing else, well...sneaky. Few outside of party members have any affection for the idea that tax money should be spent subsidizing political parties. Abolition of this give away would even get my approval providing it was coupled to a cap on total political spending such that the Conservative Party's expenditures would be no more than that of the Communist Party of Canada, or ,better yet, the Marijuana Party. Good idea the latter...more dope, less dopes.




As I write this the backroom deals between ex-leaders of the Liberals (Jean Chretien) and the NDP (Ed Broadbent) are being negotiated. Conspicuous by his absence is ex-Liberal leader Paul Martin. Actually quite strange this way of making deals. Bloc Québecois leader Gilles Duceppe has made his feeling apparent. The idea of his party being an official coalition partner is, of course, absurd from both a federal and a Québec perspective, but he is a "kingmaker" who will extract more than the potential coalition partners will extract from each other in terms of policy and expenditure.




One actually has to hand it to Sneaky Stevie with this move- tying an obviously absurd economic do-nothing policy to a trivial but resonant populist measure. One wonders what is in his mind. Perhaps he is so used to playing chicken and winning from his time in minority government that he feels he can "bluff off" the opposition and change his policy to whatever is necessary next spring. Perhaps he actually wants to abandon power temporally either by provoking an election that he thinks he could win by dint of frustration or by putting a divided opposition into power during an economic downturn which will be much more serious than his Pollyanna projections say.
That is one of the things that Molly has noticed. While the Conservative government says that the present recession/depression will end next April 9an obviously absurd case of wishful thinking) they have proposed that federal civil servants should be prohibited from striking or receiving anything but trivial wage increases for three years. I would submit that the latter is a much more realistic time frame for how long we will be in hard times. Hopefully not longer, but that is possible as well.
The possibility of a coalition minority government may be the best thing that we could see at this time. The madder ideas of any one party would be inhibited by the need to satisfy the other coalition partners. The government would actually be more open to objective economic facts rather than ideology. Not a bad thing indeed. Most importantly the government would be much more open than what we have become accustomed to under the recent rule of the Conservatives. Molly is, of course, an anarchist, and she has no delusions that such a situation would be utopia. It would, especially, not safeguard us against future economic vagaries nor would it lead to the fastest recovery. A cooperative and localist upsurge, along with a redesigning of our industrial production via producer cooperatives would be best. . In the absence of this utopia, however, proper bargaining rather than ideological dictation is a better way.
Here's another view of the prospect of an upcoming coalition government from the Harper Index, a website devoted to keeping a microscopic eye on Sneaky Stevie's manipulations.
........................
Coalition push forces Harper onto the defensive:
Momentum - including
open online letter grows to replace minority Conservatives.
OTTAWA , November 28, 2008: Momentum is growing for the replacement of the Harper Conservatives by a Liberal-NDP coalition. Two months ago, when the idea was first broached in StraightGoods.ca, almost all parties dismissed the idea. Now, a non-confidence vote could see the government fall as soon as Monday night.

All day today, negotiations took place between the opposition parties, with former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent taking lead roles. Then tonight, Harper took the extraordinary move of making a special address to Parliament and the nation. In it, he postponed a confidence vote on the economic statement finance minister Jim Flaherty made yesterday to a week Monday instead of Monday. And he attacked the opposition as undemocratic for wanting to replace his government without an election.

"While we have been working on the economy, the Opposition has been working on a backroom deal to overturn the results of the last election without seeking the consent of voters," Harper said. " They want to take power, not earn it." Ironically, the bulk of reaction to the economic statement was over widespread perceptions that the government's statement showed a lack of work on the economic crisis.

Harper has difficulty making the kind of compromises demanded of a minority prime minister. Instead of bringing Canadians together to fight the crisis, Flaherty's statement Thursday was viciously partisan. In it, he trashed longtime political targets like pay equity and labour rights in the public service, as well as political finance rules put in place to level the playing field.

Open online letter to Dion and Layton calls for a coalition government As political leaders huddle in Ottawa, activists across Canada are becoming involved in the push for a coalition. Canadians everywhere are being urged to sign an online open letter calling for coalition that began with a small group pulled together by the Rideau Institute. The letter urges the Liberal's Stéphane Dion and the NDP's Jack Layton to "set aside all partisan considerations in favour of decisive action to help Canadians who are suffering and whose livelihoods are in jeopardy."

The letter argues it was bitterly ironic for Stephen Harper to promise to work cooperatively with opposition parties, and then deliver such a partisan attack with no plan to fight the economic crisis and the stated intention not to run deficits, in the face of what other G20 countries are doing.

"Instead his Conservative government is using the crisis to attack the democratic process, violate the rights of public servants to bargain collectively and end pay equity," states the letter. "Canada now stands alone as the only government in the western world without a coherent economic stimulus plan. The Harper government talks of balancing the budget by selling off assets and restraining spending, the exact opposite of the stimulus response that virtually all economists and many others are arguing is necessary." The original signers of the letter are : Paul Moist, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Ken Lewenza, President, Canadian Auto Workers
Dave Coles, President, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada
Denis Lemelin, National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Steven Staples, President, Rideau Institute
Bruce Campbell, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
John Urquhart, Executive Director, Council of Canadians
Mel Watkins, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Toronto
Peggy Mason, Former UN Ambassador for Disarmament

1 comment:

Josh Rhodes said...

Can't really comment meaningfully on your own particular state's gang of scoundrels beyond what's already been said, but the mention of the Marijuana Party compels me to say:

Round about 4 years ago or so me and my band went up Canada way, and being big dorks we of course had to visit a hash bar, and what should be next to the hash bar but the headquarters of the BC Marijuana Party, Motto: Overgrow the Government.

Inside this headquarters was, without a doubt, the EASIEST pinball game I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, there were like four doodads in it. You'd have to be either mentally retarded or in some other certain unspecified way incapacitated in order not to get an extremely high score on it.

Also, in the bathroom of the hash bar were injunctions to read Noam Chomsky and Ward Churchill along with the proclamation: "All employees must wipe ass." I confess to a little bit of envy of the Canadaland. Just thought I'd share.