…like while watching this bit.
I do love my Canada. I love how polite we are, and I love living in a snow globe.
…like while watching this bit.
I do love my Canada. I love how polite we are, and I love living in a snow globe.
Please forgive the recent hiatus. I was busy plotting birthday parties (there’s triple-chocolate cheesecake involved, is all I can say) and – oh yeah – getting some work done. You know. Work. The kind that helps pay the bills.
I haven’t had much time or energy to pay attention to the ongoing Parliament Hill saga. Apparently, there’s talk of a coalition to replace the Tories. Unless of course enough people wake up in time and realize Stephen Harper has managed, once again, to trap his hapless opponents. I don’t particularly like Mr. Harper. But I sure don’t believe he’d be dumb enough to get himself trapped by Messrs. Dion and Co.
Re-anyway. I am not particularly upset by any of this. For one thing, it’s not exactly surprising (not even the part where the Bloc gets to play a major supporting role; all parties have explored similar possibilities). And whether it happens or not, things aren’t likely to change. The only kind of government this country ever gets is the socially liberal, big spending kind. There isn’t one political party that speaks to me. Not one. But they all want to reach into my wallet to pay for things I don’t like – yes, very much including the Tories, who spend more these days than anybody ever did.
Seriously; is there any reason for someone like me to care one way or the other? I’m having real trouble thinking of any, but I’d like to know what our readers have to say.
Andrea adds: I’m a “reader” of sorts. Read this blog religiously, actually. Mostly looking for typos and such, spiffing it up here and there… anyhoo. Never miss a chance to express your opinion, I say.
I care because while Harper didn’t prove to be small-c conservative at all, there’s not an economy out there that the NDP didn’t successfully tank. They have a proven track record, so to speak. That leaves me concerned for all kinds of things–but mostly for the poor, those living on the margins, those who lose their jobs and are left with nothing but an NDP-sponsored government handout. My second point: Harper caused this (I recently mused whether youthful inexperience is actually a hiring requirement in the PMO). But is the removal of government subsidies for parties–a firing offence? Not sure.
Why you should continue not to care–on the other hand. Because this will all come to an election sooner or later. Carry on with your cheesecake (sounds delicious). (And paying work. I’ve heard of that. Gotta go.)
Rebecca adds: I am also having trouble caring, which is unusual given my politics junkie status. Frankly I don’t like any of the players very much right now. Duceppe is the only one actually representing the interests of his constituency; I guess it’s our loss that Canada isn’t part of his constituency.
I’m chiefly curious to find out how much of this is part of a Rovian Grand Plan by Harper, and how much is wild flailing. A lawyer of whom I’m fond (they do exist) is of the opinion that “Harper speared himself, is frantically trying to pull out the harpoon, and may take constitutional democracy down with him.” I’ve also heard from people much more plugged in than I am that this has been in the offing since well before the October 14th election, which wouldn’t surprise me – as Brigitte says, all political parties scheme this way – but does mean that Harper’s real error was in giving the clowns an opening, not in committing some offense so grave that the three parties united to restore harmony, balance and Coke in the water fountains.
The larger lesson here, one of them anyway, is that minority governments are awful, and coalitions are worse. With the rise of the BQ and the Greens, they might be here to stay, and if (ftu ftu ftu) there’s another conservative schism, we’ll be permanently consigned to the ranks of unstable democracies that hold election every 18 months, like Israel and Italy.
But so far as we can gather, nothing [Harper] did during 33 months in office altered his reputation as a potential danger to what many Canadians like to call, in their most euphoric moments, “Canadian values.” In trying to convert voters to his view of government, he seems to be dreaming an impossible dream, as the song goes, while struggling “to fight for the right.” Not enough of us are singing along.
Not enough are singing along–not dedicated conservatives (small-c) and certainly not the rest of the country. To win a majority, you need a leader who can at least inspire the choir, and then do a bit more.
Rebecca adds: “To win a majority, you need a leader who can at least inspire the choir, and then do a bit more.”
Indeed. In 2006, Harper went up against a reeling Liberal party coming off Adscam and scandals involving biker gangs, led by the comically bumbling Paul Martin, and only managed a minority. Yesterday, Harper went up against a Liberal party advocating a massive and elaborate tax hike and no sound fiscal policy in the midst of an economic crisis, led by Stephane Dion’s leadership which brings to mind Abbot and Costello skits, and managed only a (larger) minority. At some point, Conservatives should ask if he’s ever going to close the deal.
The next question is, of course, who would be better? And how do Conservatives make him (or her, but probably him) the leader without yet another conservative schism that hands the Liberals another decade on a platter?
What’s next? Promoting abortion?
OTTAWA — Stephen Harper is ruling out re-opening a debate over abortion law for a future Conservative government, saying today there are too many other important issues to manage.
“We have a lot of challenges in front of the country,” the Conservative leader said this morning during an announcement about arts and fitness funding for children.
“We have a difficult world economy as we all know. That has to be the focus of the government and I simply have no intention of ever making the abortion question a focus of my political career.”
He said that some of his caucus members would like him to do so, and so would some Liberals: “But, I have not done that in my entire political career. Don’t intend to start now.”
“I have been clear throughout my entire political career I don’t intend to open the abortion issue,” he said. “I haven’t in the past; I’m not going to in the future.”
Andrea adds: I never had any expectation of Harper on abortion, something I’ve publicly stated before. What bothers me is this:
After today’s event, however, Mr. Harper’s spokesman Kory Teneycke clarified in an email to The Globe and Mail that Mr. Harper would “whip” his front bench so that none of his cabinet ministers would support any private member’s bills that could re-open the debate.
Whipping his cabinet? Ah, freedom of speech, apparently such a tenuous concept that even the party that was supposed to not be like the Liberals is, well, just like the Liberals. Get ready for some splashy new fountain to appear in Harper’s riding, maybe a small golf course… At least Chretien never pretended to be decent.
Rebecca asks: How has it come about, that we can’t even have a debate about this? Are feminists and “choice advocates” so insecure in their convictions that they fear an honest discussion? (And if so – what does this tell us?) Is there any other issue about which so many Canadians disagree, that is nonetheless off-limits politically in all parties?
Andrea is trying to think positive: At least he has not said the dreaded “I believe in a woman’s right to choose,” those special words that mean in point of fact that a politician has never given abortion any thought at all and is rather running scared from the likes of Judy Rebick.
Véronique adds: I’ll just say that I’m glad my Conservative candidate is pro-life: I can still vote for him even if the party at large is now officially pro-choice. About the matter of conscience and the issue of “whipping” your cabinet, nobody said having convictions was going to be easy: ask Michael Chong who gave up his seat in cabinet because he didn’t support the “Quebec as a nation” motion (wow, that’s snappy, I should write a song). I think that any cabinet minister with a backbone would rather resign — or refuse a seat in cabinet to start with — than being told what to vote on such an important issue.
Tanya has to say it: We all can’t fight every battle all the time. In my mind, Harper won’t win any election with pro-life guns-a-blazing. And then where would we be? Slow and steady wins the race. He’s setting the pace for eventual Conservative majority government in this country.
In the meantime, we need to keep up the dialog. We need to make sure no one gets away with calling this a closed debate. That being said, Harper, you don’t need to “open the abortion issue.” It’s already open. So please find some new wording for the arms length you choose to keep with it.
Stéphane Dion warns against a Conservative hidden agenda. They never get tired of that line, do they.
Tanya adds: Dion said, “So I want to ask him: how far is [Harper] more right-wing than Canadians?”
Like, all Canadians? The short answer to that question is that he’s more right-wing than some and less right-wing than others. (I never went to politics school ‘n stuff, but I think that’s why, like, democracy exists…no?)
My take on this is that Dion isn’t very liked. But if he can get Liberals to hate Harper enough, they’ll come out in droves to vote.
To this list, I’d add defunding of procedures not medically necessary, like abortion. My opponents argue abortion is so very private–then let it be truly so and stop using my money to fund it.
Perfect for timid politicians, incidentally; they don’t have to make any comment on abortion itself, simply have to withdraw the money. Perfect for libertarians, in particular those who don’t care about abortion–it reduces state expenditures. Most of all, perfect for women’s groups who support abortion as a woman’s private, personal choice. A win-win!
Bill C-484 was never my favourite piece of legislation. It wasn’t pro-life, and man oh man, judging by the outcry on the pro-abortion side, it certainly wasn’t their cup of tea either. I suppose I enjoyed the fact that even in wanted pregnancies, the pro-abortion side was guarding against what they perceived to be a slippery slope–that somehow, if in wanted pregnancies killing a baby could amount to a crime, that might spill over into people’s subconscious for the abortion debate. In any event, Bill C-484 is no more. I think Harper did the right thing, telling Minister Nicholson to have that press conference, especially given that Dion was asking for his position on abortion. It’s off the table now–a good tactical move for any politician going into an election. Which I now, thanks to this move, fully believe we are.
Now how he did it, that irks me. Ken Epp’s office was not informed. I understand Epp is not running for office again. I understand therefore, that Harper thinks he doesn’t need to care. Here’s why he should have. Irrespective of how I felt about Bill C-484, there were those who supported Epp passionately, and saw it as a pro-life bill, or at least a small statement that social conservatives could support. Not telling Epp now means at best begrudging support from that crowd. What Harper did was fine. How he did it wasn’t. A tactical shift doesn’t have to be dirty.
That’s where Harper should be more careful. There are many people out there who couldn’t give a hoot for “politics,” but do look to substance and conduct. And why shouldn’t they? They don’t live in this special silo called Ottawa. Don’t they count for something?
Brigitte adds: Ken Epp says he won’t withdraw his bill. Good for him. I have zero doubt it will die on its own some day soon, but hey. There’s only so much any individual MP can do, and Mr. Epp is doing all he can.
…that I agree with Stéphane Dion. But he’s right about this:
Stéphane Dion has challenged the prime minister to clarify his view on abortion, threatening to reignite the debate as Canada careens towards an election.
“I think all Canadians have the right to know what the party leader thinks,” he said. “I gave my opinion. I want to hear the opinion of Stephen Harper.”
And Andrea is staying true to form: and disagreeing with Dion. He only wants to know Harper’s stance on abortion now because he’s bought into the misinformation on Bill C-484, which expressly excludes abortion. Voting in favour of Bill C-484 is not a vote against abortion, much as Joyce Arthur would have us believe. If I thought that–I’d blog about it more often. In any event, all we’d get from Harper at this stage would be Ye Olde “I support a woman’s right to choose” too, and given the circumstances, I wouldn’t expect any different. Now if Dion weren’t asking, and if Harper were to clarify under different circumstances…that’s a different story. Then, yes, I’d like to know his stance on abortion. As it stands, I’d prefer Dion clarify his position, on, oh say, the environment. Or finances. Or just about any existing policy debate… where to begin…
The Conservatives’ legislative enthusiasms are almost guaranteed to repel women voters: Wars, tougher criminal treatment of children, funding cuts to women’s groups, lack of interest in universal daycare and access to abortion.
The only problem with cuts to “women’s groups” is that they have not been sweeping enough and they still retain funding so they can lobby the government for partisan purposes using my tax dollars.
It’s enough to make a girl cry.
I’d hate to call this piece in today’s Globe paternalistic and simple, but what the heck. That’s what I think it is.
The situation highlights what pollsters see as an escalating political trend line: the Conservatives as the party for men, the Liberals as the party for women. … The Harper government was doing better with women earlier in its mandate, explained Mr. Nanos, with emphasis on such policies as health care. But as the focus switched to things such as defence spending and cutting taxes and a crackdown on crime, the support drifted away. … But now, as women progress on so many fronts, it is hard to find them or their causes in this governing party.
Really? And if we’ve progressed soooooo much, one would hope we’d have moved away from the idea of the One Unanimous Female Voice. (And the idea that women don’t worry their pretty little heads about things like defence and taxes.)