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Are Harper’s days numbered?

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

We deserve, so the saying goes, the government we elect. And so it certainly is this time round when we elect a Conservative minority matched with a feckless opposition for the second time in a row. Until now, that is. For the first time in half a decade, we might just have a real opposition ready to take over the strings of power.

Stephen Harper is starting to bare his teeth through his good-natured, sweater-clad persona. To be honest, I was really impressed with him in the first minority government. Instead of the Jean Chretien years of, “Well iss like when yer stuck in a snow bank- you go forwards den you go backwards den you go forwards until you get out” school of policy making, followed by the utterly spineless Liberal stewardship under Paul Martin that doesn’t even rate a methodology, Stephen Harper actually stood for something.

Many Canadians may not have agreed much with what he was wanting to do but at least he drew a line in the sand and stood by it. Like it or not, he was in charge. And he played Parliament like it was a violin- not a good one mind you, with broken strings and busted bow, but a violin nonetheless.

The opposition has been in as much disarray as it was before the election but there is something very different now. It’s almost as if Harper is tired of governing as a minority- and governing a pluralistic society. In past political manoeuvrings, Harper has made some significant changes to the Canadian policy landscape by either tossing in a sweetening pill for one of the opposition parties so that they wouldn’t dare defeat the measure, or else he would evoke some sort of poison-pill that pitted one opposition party against another. It was genius politics.

But this time he has gone way too far. Harper is starting to show is utter contempt for Parliament by bringing forth an economic statement that includes no measures to stimulate the economy but proposes to save the Canadian taxpayer all of $23-million in subsidies to the political parties. Twenty-three million dollars- that’s less than a dollar per citizen of Canada. Symbolically it’s significant. It’s just that the symbol speaks to the very democracy that we have here in Canada. And Harper clearly wants to have nothing more with it.

And so the opposition, in a shameless act of self-preservation is finally coming together to draw its line in the sand. Harper has seen the line and has delayed the vote for a week- presumably to measure the winds of opinion. And it doesn’t look good for his government. In this turn, his arrogance might have got the better of his Parliamentary chess game. It is not yet “Check-Mate”, but it is certainly the first “Check”- a warning that he is about to be taken out.

Editorials in the more conservative papers warn the Liberals that they were soundly repudiated in the last election. Quite the contrary- the election was the the Conservative’s to lose and that they did. Failing to achieve the magic majority they cynically thought they could grasp underscored Canadian’s rightful distrust of Harper and his policies.

Coalition or election, it doesn’t really matter. The Conservatives are wearing out their welcome mat very quickly. Harper is starting to show himself to be a combative, contemptuous troll and its time that we saw the change that the majority of Canadians were looking for in the Great Pointless Election of 2008.

A coalition would do Canadians very well. After all, the Bloc, the NDP and the Liberals are not far apart on most issues that are important to Canadians. And who knows- we might actually get some mature government since all the children will have to stop kicking sand in each other’s eyes and steer this ship away from the shoals of economic and political disaster.

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