Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The following article is from the website of the Canadian Labour Congress. As the federal Conservatives mount their desperate attempt to hold on to power with a massive public relations campaign funded by their overflowing war chest many labour and other progressive organizations are also gearing up to fight and demand a coalition government to replace the Harperites. It has to be admitted that Molly, as an anarchist, has no horse in this race. I haven't supported any political party for decades. Despite this the disgraceful behavior of the Harperites may already have done great harm to the Canadian economy and, thereby, to ordinary Canadians, and it would be "the lesser of two evils" to have them replaced. What they have demonstrated is that, either because of ideological blindness or because of pure political opportunism, they have zero or less concern about the ordinary Canadian and what they may face in the coming hard times.
What our present Governor General has in front of her when she returns to the country is basically three options. If the present government decides to try and prorogue the present sitting of the House of Commons she can either agree or disagree to the request. By Canadian constitutional precedent she is pretty well restricted to the former option. Disagreeing with the request would say bluntly that Harper and his government are attempting to dishonourably dodge the usual parliamentary procedure. To say the least this is unlikely. There is no precedent for this in Canadian parliamentary procedure. Whatever the truth of this statement the actual precedent is on the side of the Conservatives on this. By law Parliament is only required to meet once a year. they've met. case closed. Also, the likelihood of the Governor General making a blunt and truthful statement on the ethics of the government of the day is exactly zero. That has never been done. So...option one, if Harper decides to prorogue the sitting Jean has little choice but to agree.
There's another option that I saw proposed in our local newspaper, the Winnipeg Free Press, today. The columnist, Roger Gibbons of the Canada West Foundation, has proposed what is basically much more of a coup than anything that the Conservatives have claimed in their frenzied propaganda. What he, as an obvious hard core Conservative supporter, has proposed is that the parliamentary rules of Canada be abolished, that the GG "refuse" (cough, cough) the resignation of Harper should he be defeated in a Commons vote and that the government of Canada become an open dictatorship that no longer has to abide by the rules. This is not an option to any reasonable person, and, given that Harper has sent the best portion of the Canadian Army to serve American interests in Afghanistan it is not even an option for the most vicious Conservative. What the presentation of such an option shows is both the desperation of Conservative supporters and just how microscopically thin their commitment to democracy is. Scratch a Conservative and you uncover a Pinochet.
But there are other options. They follow a possible defeat of the Conservatives in the upcoming week if they decide not to try and dodge the bullet by proroguing Parliament. If the Harperites are defeated then Jean's options are either to 1)accept the inevitable call for a new $300 million election in the depths of winter just weeks after the last one and in the middle of an economic crisis or 2)to accept the proposal of the Liberals and NDP to form a coalition government with the support of the BQ. The latter course of action has precedent behind it, especially as the parties to the proposed coalition have presented a plan that gives at least a prospect of governmental stability for the next year and a half.
Those are the three options: 1)prorogue Parliament, 2)call a new election or 3)let the coalition govern. In the meantime there are lingering questions about how the Harperites are attempting to frame their attempt at rousing the population to their side. According to a recent poll reported on CTV they are going to have a hard time. This Angus Reid poll said that, Canada wide, only 35% of the Canadian population want the Conservatives to continue in power (less than their popular vote in the last election) while 40% want change. If the government does fall 37% want the opposition coalition while only 32% want a new election. 24% aren't sure. It seems that the Harperites have a high hill to climb.
Another thing that Molly has noticed, though it has hardly been mentioned in the mass media, is that the Conservatives have very bluntly abandoned their chances at ever becoming a majority !! government by deciding to frame their public attack ads as an "anti-Quebec" campaign. The rhetoric about the NDP's supposed "socialism" is there, those it is understandably muted because the proposed coalition agreement gives the NDP essentially no input about serious financial matters. In any case the "socialism" of the NDP is about as dilute as if one were to drop one drop of red dye into Lake Superior. The Republicans tried the same tactic in the recent US elections, and that penguin failed to fly as well. It is even less likely to have resonance up here in the frozen north where "socialism" is often more of a compliment rather than an indication of the object of the "insult" wearing horns.
Ah, but then we get to the idea of the Conservative hard core that they can revive the "French on cereal boxes" troopers to rally to them. This may have some quick and easy resonance as the same Angus Reid poll mentioned above says that 57% of Canadians in general are concerned about the BQ support of the coalition while only 30% are not concerned. Yet...in Quebec only 36% are concerned. Forty seven percent don't care at all. Kiss your remaining Quebec seats goodbye Harper. How well this immediate attack will survive the obvious retort that separatism cannot be promoted by a federal party such as the BQ but can only achieve it goals via an election in Quebec itself ie provincially is hard to say. Success in such a matter can only depend on the Canadian population remaining as ignorant of their constitution as the Conservatives think they are and hope they remain.
What IS certain is that the present Harper anti-Quebec campaign is doing great damage to Canadian unity, and that the more vicious it gets the more it will alienate people in Quebec. If some of the supporters of the Conservatives are quite happy with dictatorship, as mentioned above, then it should come as no surprise that they would ALSO be quite happy to rule over a rump of a country....just as long as they could rule. The Conservatives are presently playing a dangerous game, and their false cover of "patriotism" should be seen as what it is. In the end game the Conservatives are not only willing to sacrifice ordinary Canadians' interests in the present crisis to their ideology and their power hunger. They are also willing to sacrifice the future interests of people in both Quebec and the rest of Canada to their power hunger as well. Few doubt that a divided country, in whatever configuration and whatever long period of uncertainty, would be less prosperous than it is today. All that Molly can say to this is, "are you willing to live on welfare (at 2/3rds of the rate today) just so you don't have to read French on your cereal boxes ? " Think about it.
This "introduction", however, has gone on and on, much longer than the article that follows below. Here's the statement from the Canadian Labour Congress. The reader will also note that I haven't, to this point, spoken as an anarchist but rather as an ordinary concerned citizen, appalled by the actions of our government. I hope to correct this omission in further posts.
Coalition Government to Deal with the Economic Crisis:
The Economic and Fiscal Update released by Finance Minister Flaherty on November 27, 2008 demonstrates that the Conservative government has no intention of seriously dealing with the global economic crisis and the prospect of fast rising unemployment.

The recent G-20 Summit meeting called on governments to "take urgent and exceptional measures" to stimulate their economies in a co-ordinated way to stop a slide into a global depression.

The incoming Obama administration in the United States plans to invest $500 to $700 billion in January 2009 to create 2.5 million jobs over the next two years, with a major focus on public infrastructure, the environment and improved unemployment benefits.

The governments of Britain, Australia and China have already followed up on G-20 calls for investments of about 2% of national income, which would amount to $30 billion in the case of Canada. The European Union have just introduced a major package.

Instead of acting here, the Conservative Economic and Fiscal Update pretends that yesterday's tax cuts have already done the job and says that "the Government is planning on balanced budgets or better for the current and the next five years."

Instead of investing in jobs and people, the Conservative government plans to cut spending by almost $2 billion next year. That is on top of cuts to equalization payments to the provinces of $1.8 billion next year and $5 billion the year after. The government plans to raise more than $2 billion next year by selling off public assets (at what will be fire sale prices). It also signalled a move to shut down pay equity in the federal jurisdiction.

The Economic and Fiscal statement put forward a rose-coloured economic forecast which completely ignores the reality of large recent job losses and a looming recession. It forecasts economic growth of 0.3% next year, compared to the TD Bank's forecast of a fall in Gross Domestic Product of 1.1% in 2009. It forecasts an unemployment rate of under 7% next year, while TD Bank forecasts the national unemployment rate will rise from 6.2% today, to 7.6% in 2009, to 7.9% in 2010.

In short, the Conservative government has no positive plan to deal with the crisis and intends to respond to a downturn through cuts rather than needed investments in jobs and people.
Rather than work to bring Canadians together, they chose to use the excuse of a crisis to try and ram through a partisan and mean-spirited agenda.

The Conservatives are unwilling to make Parliament work and refuse to provide Canadians with the leadership they need to weather the deepening economic crisis.
We deserve better.
The Canadian Labour Congress has called for a major package including:
***A multi year public investment program covering basic municipal infrastructure, energy conservation, public transit and renewable energy, twinned to Made in Canada procurement programs;
***Investments in job creating public services like child care;
***Improvements to Employment Insurance benefits and increased investments in training;
Measures to protect workers' pensions and improve public pensions;
***Concrete action to save manufacturing and forestry jobs and to help hard hit industries restructure thorough new investments.

We are greatly encouraged that the Opposition parties are prepared to work together around a positive agenda and strongly support efforts to provide Canadians with an alternative that works in the country's best interests.

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