This is the last post in my series Minority Reports: Politics and power in Canada, written for TheThunderbird.ca. As such, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at where we’ve been in order to analyze some of the stories we’ve been following and hopefully give you a sense of what it all means.
What turned Layton into a Liberal and Harper into a socialist?
At the beginning of December, I was mad. Little over a month after the Conservatives were reelected with a strengthened minority government, the three stooges of coupscam threatened to topple the newly elected government by forming a coalition. While there was nothing illegal about this, I saw it as fundamentally undemocratic and immoral. Therefore, a closer look at the status of the coalition was a natural starting place in my foray into inter-party politics in a minority parliament.
I argued that the coalition was unlikely to come to fruition. It turns out that I was right and the coalition idea has now been officially abandoned. However, despite never coming to fruition, this near-constitutional crisis ended up having a significant impact on Canadian politics. As a result of the coalition threat, Stephane Dion was permanently exiled from the Canadian political scene and Michael Ignatieff was able to seize power of the Liberal Party in a bloodless coup of his own. This also gave Ignatieff the power to force Harper to introduce a budget that will have Canada swimming in red ink for years to come
The just war
My next post dealt with the Canadian government’s response to the war in Gaza. I had two primary reasons for touching on this subject. First, the war was dominating the headlines and it is a subject near and dear to my heart, so I felt a need to comment on it. Second, I was desperately searching for some sense of civility in the House of Commons and this was the one issue that Ignatieff and Harper seemed to agree on. While the war in Gaza is now officially over, rockets are still being fired out of Gaza on an almost daily basis, which threatens to reignite the conflict. Also, Ezra Levant reports that Ignatieff may be waffling on his support for Israel. At least there seems to be widespread agreement between our two main political parties on the merits of Keynesian economic policies.
God money I’ll do anything for you
The big story in Ottawa for most of January was the budget. To the south, Obama was busy making plans for a massive economic stimulus package. Up here, Ignatieff was busy blackmailing Harper into adopting similar measures. This was a big turn-on for special interest groups and corporate welfare bums on both sides of the border. This is why I thought I’d take a look at all the people that were lining up to get their hands on your money. It would appear as though most, if not all, of these groups are going to get a nice cheque in the mail pretty soon. The unfortunate side of this is that when I’m old, our social welfare system will be bankrupt and my taxes will be sky high. On the bright side, this gave me ample fuel for two additional blog posts on the subject.
Senatus Populusque Canada
A study of the Canadian parliament would not be complete without looking at the Upper House. Harper was criticized for appointing senators and essentially abandoning his plans for Senate reform, but I chose not to focus on this because I believe it is a non-issue. First, it is unfair to criticize Harper for doing the same thing as just about every prime minister before him. Like it or not, the Senate is still an appointed body. Second, I don’t believe the government’s plan for Senate reform is a good one. I, therefore, focused on why the Senate is ineffective and why the government’s plan to reform it is the wrong thing to do.
pol·i·tics n. From the root words poli meaning many and tics meaning bloodsucking creatures.
For most of the time I was writing this blog, parliament was prorogued, so coming up with story ideas took a bit of creativity on my part. Imagine my excitement when parliament resumed with a budget that would make or break the Harper government. Then, like a swift kick in the junk, the full gravity of Harper’s budgetary compromise became apparent. I asked myself why Harper would sell out; why he would institute policies that he knows won’t work? The answer quickly became apparent. Our institutions are setup in a way that rewards big government, big spending, and shortsighted policies, while at the same time punishing creativity, honesty, and fiscal responsibility. Don’t blame me. Democracy made me do it.
My God—It’s full of stars
Finally, I looked into the possible political and economic ramifications of budget 2009. I took a look at the concerns that many small-c conservatives had about the Mulroney government and found that the very same issues are cropping up with the Harper government. Regardless of the financial mess that Harper may have caused, I hope that Conservatives don’t fracture this time around. This is not only important for anyone who wants the possibility of a Conservative government in the future, but also for people who want a vibrant political debate in parliament and in the country as a whole.
A giant pair of nut graphs
So what does it all mean? Like George W. Bush, I will let history judge the merits of my blog. Optimally, I hope I have made you wrestle with a contradiction that continually haunts me. On the one hand, our government has such a profound impact on our lives, yet many Canadian pay no attention to it and cannot be bothered to even show up to the polling booth. I hope I have shown that Canadian politics is interesting and that the decisions our politicians make are important. On the other hand, our entire system of government leaves a foul taste in my mouth. Our politicians lie to us, they deceive us, they waste our money on inefficient bureaucracies, they limit our freedoms, and they try to civilize us by teaching cowardice. The whole exercise of government, I believe, undermines the legitimacy of the system itself and calls into question the social contract on which it is based.
However, if at any point in reading my blog you have said to yourself: “That’s a good point, I never thought of it that way,” or “This guy is full of crap, who the hell does he think he is?” then I have done my job. And remember, you can continue to read my thoughts and opinions on the issues of the day by heading over to my personal blog.