Friday, December 5, 2008

Now what?

I really don't understand the thinking behind proroguing the government here. Other than the fact that it's Stephen Harper hanging on by his fingernails, desperately clinging to power for at least one more month. But there is no parliament now for that month. And a half. There is no government. There is nothing happening for Canada at all. And for what? So we can come back on January 26th and go through the same thing again? Everyone seems to be saying that Harper is going to draft a new budget that will be acceptable to all parties, and that will somehow fix everything. Like, if the Conservatives have the time, they can just craft a co-operative budget accaptable to everyone. Like they should have done the first time, what with having a minority government.

So, suppose they do. And they come up with a budget that gives the NDP and the Liberals and the Bloc everything they want, as a way of hanging on to power in desperation. What has that really done? It certainly hasn't solved the problem which caused all of this - Harper's unwillingness to work with other parties in a cooperative way. When the Conservatives took out the contentious clauses (public financing, etc.) in their previous plan, that wasn't co-operation. That was having no choice, because there was a gun to their head. And this will be the same thing. They can come up with a worthwhile, fair, universally accepted budget...with a gun to their heads. Last year, Harper tried, again and again, to push the Liberals on every issue, more out of mean-spiritedness than because he wanted to help Canada. He just wanted to make them blink, and wanted them to be the cause of the election.

But through all that, the Liberals sissied out at every turn, because they couldn't afford an election (obviously - look at their campaign). So now, they come up with a different plan. In the past, Harper was governing as though he had a majority, because he knew the Liberals would, under no circumstance, call an election. So now, he has a stronger minority, and he goes off on this crazy, over-the-top partisan crap. Imagine that man with an actual majority? Lord help this country. Forget the economic crisis - I'm too busy passing laws that say the Liberals have to wear dunce caps in the house of commons, and that every Conservative MP is allowed to give any NDP MP a swirly once a week. Scary thought.

So on January 26th, when parliament returns after their "cooling off" period, what changes? Maybe there's a new budget on the table, but so what? Dion, Layton and Duceppe aren't going to be affected by a "cooling off" period, because they went into this with calm, methodical clarity. This was not an angry knee-jerk reaction. It was a carefully planned attempt to save this country from an ill-equipped leader. And it will not go away simply because parliament does. When the session resumes in late January, Barack Obama will have just been sworn in as President of the United States. And the world will be watching as he takes the White House with his "team of rivals", a group that by it's very nature requires co-operation and conflicting opinions. And Stephen Harper, in comparison, will look to us Canadians like the worst leader in the world. (He is not the worst leader in the world, to be fair - just in Canada.)

And we'll be in the same position we are now. This coalition has to stick around, even if it doesn't bring down the government right away, simply because it is the only thing keeping Harper from running off on his mean-spirited neo-con agenda. And I don't think Canadians want a leader who can't be a good one without a gun to his head.

5 comments:

  1. Everyone wants to have their opinion heard, and that's all they are. Opinions. Nobody can get inside the head of Mr. Harper to find out what his intentions are for real, so we all speculate. When we speculate, we form our opinions. I doubt Mrs. Harper really knows what is going on inside Mr. Harper's head either. Perhaps the cats at 24 Sussex know for sure, but what can they tell us?

    Eric, you have speculated about what our PM's intentions are, and have formed an opinion. Just like everyone else in the country. From what I've seen in the news, the country is somewhat divided on the issue of a coalition government. Not decisively divided, but certainly difficult to guage.

    Perhaps, people need to speculate a little further than their narrow minds allow. Put on the other shoes if you will.

    Perhaps, Mr. Harper (who was elected to lead the country) feels that what he proposed is the best course of action for this country. His hand has been forced by the rest of the so-called "board of directors" at the table. Therefore, he called off the meeting. Isn't that the prerogative of the head of a company (nation) to do? He essentially said, "this is what I propose that will get us out of this mess" and he was met with opposition from the "board" (that essentially has no power, unless they align themselves). The rest of the "board" thinks there is a different way of doing what was proposed. The rest of the "board" looks to the United States and says "hey, they're going to bail-out everyone with cash, and that will solve all the problems. We should do that too". (has it worked? we haven't seen it come to fruition yet? Maybe it won't work, maybe it'll get worse...)

    Our PM has suggested a safe-for-now approach and his "board of directors" didn't like it. So they came up with their alternate plan. They threatened him with a mutiny (or coalition, whichever you prefer). So what does he do? The PM cancels the meeting until he can figure out how to get this done right so as to make sure his "Board of Directors" are on board.

    Sure, it's a power-play. Not entirely different than what goes on the boardrooms of Canada. But, because it's our PM, and the favorite pastime of most Canadians is to complain and express opinions, we have speculated beyond what the most plausible stories are and have led ourselves to believe that evil powers are at play here.

    I'll let my "cooler head" prevail on this. I believe we are currently in a hissy-spat between the head of the company (PM) and the Board of Directors (The Mutineers) about which direction we should take. We elected the Head of the Company, so let's let him do his job and not speculate that he's doing this because his ego is too big.

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  2. I think this is the only thing we can do now, make silly videos to laugh at to keep from crying: http://elfyourself.jibjab.com/view/1kgUoZPcr9DEjF91

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  3. Believe me, I have looked at both sides of this issue. And I don't know if I have ever received a longer, more ambiguous comment - thanks for that! Longer, yes. More ambiguous, yes. But never both at once to such a degree...ambiguity is all well and good. And we can certainly just "wait and see" what happens. But here's the thing - doing basically nothing and waiting to see what happens is NOT the easiest course of action.

    The EASIEST course of action, the SAFEST course of action, I think any economist would agree - and all of them have said as much - is to pass an over-reaching stimulus package. It is easy to clean up the mess if we try too hard and invest too much. In fact, there will be nothing to clean up. There will just be coffers to replenish. However, the consequences of INACTION are far more serious. If action is required, and none is taken, then the mess will be far more difficult, and possibly impossible to clean up.

    In short, it is actually SAFER to pass a stimulus package than it is to do nothing. Inaction is the course that is actually rolling the dice here.

    Oh, and as for Mr. Harper truly believing that this is the right course for the country - that is possible, when it comes to inaction. There is a very good chance that he thinks rolling the dice by doing nothing at all to help the economy is the right thing to do, and perhaps he's right. There is a chance that Canada will just keep on keeping on as the economic world crumbles around us. But it's a chance I, for one, am not comfortable taking. The point there is, the "safe-for-now" approach is the stimulus, not the nothing.

    But I don't think there is any way that anyone can rationally suggest that the elimination of the 2 bucks a vote for political parties is in the best interests of Canada. It is clearly an effort to cripple the opposing parties, and nothing more. That 30 million dollars Canada will save? That is like docking me, and my three co-workers, four dollars each a year in salary in order to pay for light rail. It's nonsense.

    And so, since that particular part of the package Harper presented was so clearly designed to antagonize and not to help, one can only assume that he is putting the wishes of himself and the Conservative party ahead of those of Canada. And just because he later took that particular piece of garbage off the table doesn't mean that he is co-operating. He did it only to save his government. And how can the other parties trust him after that?

    Follow this logic a little further - Harper has attacked the other parties, causing them not to trust him. Those other parties make up the majority of the House of Commons. Therefore, Harper cannoy possibly have the confidence of the house. Ergo, he cannot govern. And rather than hold another election, which once again will yield the same results as the last one, and will force us all to go through this whole thing again, how about we just say OK to the coalition, which simply because of their numbers are guaranteed to be able to run our parliament. It seems pretty logical and well thought out to me, but then, it's just one man's unambiguous opinion.

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  4. It's anonymous here again....or should I say: ambiguous. And let me start this sentence with 'and'. But, then I'd also have to start this sentence with 'but'. Ergo, a big word here and there so it sounds like I belong to Mensa.

    Then again, I understand that blogging is one's prerogative to voice their opinions. It's a good thing we don't live in Afghanistan where the government's ways and means are subject to roadside bombs, and the like. Not to mention anyone who speaks out against the government. Erstwhile, Mohammed the Intern may be subject to a good stoning.

    So, be thankful we live in a nation where, at this moment, the rest of the G8 nations envy. It's not all gloom and doom for the whole country. Sure, some sectors of the economy will be hit harder than others, and we'll all feel it one way or another. But, we have progressed since the great depression of the 20's. We are a further advanced society. In every sense of the word (science, medicine, AND finance). We have learned that the economy basically runs itself. We staved off more than one crisis in the early 80's (prime rate at 18%, the energy crisis). Society prevailed then, society will prevail now, because we are smarter. The media will have you believe we are all going to be living out of cardboard boxes in no time, because
    (1) Canada lost 70,000 jobs in November.
    (2) The US reports job losses at an astronomical rate.
    (3) the Big 3 are asking for a bailout because they didn't see this economic cycle coming. (I missed a payment on my credit card, they jacked up my rate a few percentage points, please government...help me...I want a stimulus package....and I promise I won't overspend on my limit again if you could just prop me up this one time)
    (4) the mortgage crisis in the USA. (Doesn't exist to the same degree here in Canada, we were smart enough to create a federal agency to oversee all loans of that nature). We are only affected by that to the extent that our big banks have sucked up losses in guarantees, but that's the price of doing business.

    So there...are we in as bad shape like the US? Canada has no major auto manufacturers to protect. They set up shop here and lose money by paying our unionized workforce to the point of over-inflated prices on all of our consumer goods.

    So then, I would argue that Canada doesn't have a 'backbone" to protect like the US does with theri auto manufacturers. We seem to be pretty self-sufficient in our house. We aren't at the same playing field as the US in terms of economic trade (surplus, deficit, etc.) Yet, maybe because of the economic global crisis, we might feel a little bit. But enough, where we have to provide an economic stimulus?

    Who would we provide that economic stimulus to? Doc & Woody? I'm not sure if that would help stave off the impending doom that we have over our heads, but then again, it's something to talk about. Everyone else sure is talking about it!!

    Ambiguously yours,

    Anonymous.

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  5. I would disagree with a few points there - well, a Doc and Woody stimulus package would make ME happy, but is probably not in the best interests of Canadians. Although, it is a pretty good idea, and I will passionately advocate for such a package from now on...

    As far as I can see, a bailout of the Canadian auto industry is not nearly as essential as the American one is, because of the points you made. However, I would still suggest something is better than nothing. What's the worst that can happen if we do this? The taxpayers and the government are out some money. So...it's Tuesday. Well - a lot of money. So it's Tuesday through Friday. What's the worst that can happen should we do nothing at all? I don't think any of us can imagine the worst thing that could happen. But it would certainly be a lot worse than losing som taxpayer money to bad investments.

    David Suzuki has a solid column in the Metro today. Because the Metro is such a good source of good columns...or something. He suggests bailing out the environment. Specifically, designing a stimulus package that will be invested in clean energy technology, in sustainable urban planning, and in short - invest the money in saving the planet.

    In Canada, we don't need a bailout so much as we need a stimulus package that will create jobs, save other jobs, and keep the economy afloat as our biggest trading partner fights off the imminent collapse. So why not environmental research and development? After all, this is the next big economic opportunity, as the world comes apart at the seams - why not jump on in right now, give it a kickstart, and cross our fingers that we reap enormous profit out of the whole thing in five or ten years? Oh, and cross our fingers also that we manage to stop climate change as well, before those seams rip.

    I got into a discussion with a friend yesterday about the "legacy" of Stephen Harper, and George Bush, and the other Prime Ministers and Presidents we've had recently. Fifty years from now, Bush will be considered the worst President of the United States. Ever. And it will be partly because of the Iraq war, partly because of the subversion of the American constitution, and partly because of the economic meltdown. But fifty years from now, that's not what people will be thinking about when they think George Bush. They will be thinking about his inaction on climate change, his unwillingness to acknowledge there is a problem, especially given the fact that the world's warming bells were ringing off the hook on his watch.

    The only leader in the entire developed world who has been described as MORE of an obstacle to saving the environmnent than George Bush is our own Dear Leader, Stephen Harper. And fifty years from now, we Canadians won't remember much about the economy (I hope) or about his political games and petty partisanship while he was in office. But we will remember his anti-climate stance.

    Unless he does something now. And that, more than anything else, makes sense to me. Kill two birds with one stone. Deal with climate change and hedge your bets on the economy. What could go wrong there? You could even provide the auto companies with some of that green incentive, thereby killing three birds with one stone and saving a ton of jobs.

    Oh, and Muhammad the Intern unfortunately doesn't care about the worldwide economy. He is too busy worrying about roadside bombs and the destruction of his house. And his government doesn't care about his blog, because they are too worried about the global economy.

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