Those who read what I sometimes write on this blog know that I don’t usually talk about politics. Up to about yesterday, I was probably going to keep up the streak of not talking about politics, but I’ve recently had several discussions with people around me that have changed my mind. The subject: The coalition of NDP/Liberals (using the CBC’s understanding of the coalition). Several of those I know have expressed some support for the ousting of Stephen Harper as Prime Minister, and I have to disagree on a few points.
1) I am told that Harper brought this on himself by coming up with the idea that federal campaign finance should be eliminated. You see, in Canada, each party gets an amount of money from federal coffers for each vote cast for it. Sounds good, doesn’t it? After all, it means that instead of individual Canadians giving to political parties, the government does through a function of government money. The problem? It means that since the Bloc Quebecois gets a lot of votes in Quebec, federal tax dollars paid by Canadians end up in the coffers of a party that wants to put an end to Canada (and seems to like deriding us anglophones).
Harper instead seems to think that if individual Canadians want to support a political party, they should support financially as well, and parties should be accountable enough that their funds are based, not just on a vote (as is true of Bloc funding), but on whether or not the average Canadian stands with their ideals enough to give them money. And no, a multibillionaire shouldn’t be able to give billions to a party, but then, that’s why we have a cap on donations.
So, to sum up, Stephen Harper advocated doing the right thing. It may be poor timing, but it is the right thing to do.
2) The coalition says (at least through ads I heard on the radio this morning) that Stephen Harper had no plan to deal with the economy. Well, um, he’s a conservative. Conservatives have the belief that the free market should be allowed to make corrections and that government interference usually does more harm than good. Many Canadians seem to agree, as the Conservatives have the most seats in Parliament.
3) The CBC (which I am told is impartial) says that Stephen Harper is lying when Harper claims that the coalition includes the Bloc. To deal with this, I offer some simple math: the conservatives have 143 seats in the House of Commons. The Liberals have 77, and the NDP have 37, while there are 2 independants. That means the total of all parties beside the conservatives and the Bloc is 116. 116 is less than 143. In order for this coalition to actually pass legislation, they need the support of the Bloc (or of some Conservatives). This is simple because as public opinion is showing after the NDP/Liberal/Bloc stunt, the Canadian electorate are quite happy to go to the polls again and give the conservatives a majority.
The result is that the Liberals and NDP would have to ALWAYS bow to the bloc, or the government would fall again, and we’d have another election where they’d be blasted. Thus while it is semantically true that the coalition is only between the NDP and Liberals, the simple fact is that the coalition cannot work without the complete support of the Bloc.The CBC are being true to the letter of truth, but are simply not looking at the underlying truth. Is this surprising? No. Does it surprise me that we (as the people of Canada) still fund them to compete with news organizations more capable of being straight with us? Yes.
4) Newfoundland and Labrador was silly, and listened to King Danny last election, electing Anyone But Conservatives. Now we have a real possibility that we’ll have a federal government beholden to the Quebec separatists, and that has NEVER boded well for Newfoundland and Labrador. After all, they seem to keep forgetting that border between Labrador and and Quebec. Now our 7 elected representatives are giving the balance of power to the separatists.
5) Nothing I’ve heard from the Liberal/NDP coalition seems to be a decent fiscal plan. Quite the contrary, they seem to want to do the same thing as failed in ending the depression under the New Deal (the depression ended with WWII). One of my family members said that “well, instead of using the massive financial spending of the war, we’ll spend on bridges and dams and such.” The problem? The WWII ending of the depression in the US was funded by massive public financial support through large series’ of war bonds. The spending the NDP/Liberals espouse would be through the forced expropriation of funds through taxation. The former leads people to increase spending later on the things that keep the economy going (consumer goods) as they have investments, the latter leads people to hoard money, actually stilting the economy. Even where it was solely government funding that kept the war going, there was broad public support because, well, people didn’t want to die or be ruled by Nazis. Taxes rarely, if ever, have public support unless there is a clear and present danger, and economics isn’t enough. If it were, the Stamp Act would have been greeted with open arms in all of the colonies, instead of an open rebellion (leading to the creation of that country to the south).
So yeah, I’m opposed to this coalition. I think Harper is a shiftless guy, especially after his statement that he would not allow an MP to bring forward legislation opposed to pre-birth infanticide (abortion), but he’s the one Canadians actually gave a mandate to. The party in the House with the next most seats (the Liberals at 77) have just over half the number of seats his party does.
But of course, I’ll never be asked any of this, because this is all going to be handled by parliamentary politics instead of the people of Canada.
6 thoughts on “A Coalition of the Willing (Libs, NDP, Bloc), foisted on the unwilling (Canadians)”
This one’s tough. I actually consider myself a small-c conservative. I do think it’s interesting that the opinions on the coalition have split almost completely along party lines. That makes me think that if a coalition can make it work, they should probably form the government. And I say that as a person who is not a liberal and definitely no fan of the NDP.
I generally agree with you – Canada’s financial position is relatively good, so perhaps some tax breaks or mild focused incentives would be beneficial. But the Liberal/NDP plan sounds a bit silly. And if the Liberals + NDP had more seats than the Conservatives, then it would be a coalition of two parties. I disagree with Harper that it’s not democratic. If the Liberals+NDP+Bloc have the most votes, then they can govern. It’s the way our Parliamentary system is set up.
However, I disagree with point 1. I think it is a good thing for political parties to be partly subsizidized. At $1.75 per vote, it is not a huge amount, but it’s enough to let parties focus a bit more on getting elected and running their campaigns. If a party has no support from any voters, then they won’t receive any tax money. As for the Bloc, well, they do receive votes from Quebeckers, but Quebeckers do in fact pay taxes and are still Canadians. The $1100 maximum also seems a bit low to me (although I can’t see myself ever donating to a political party). A person who donates a million dollars can probably curry favour. $5K or $10K seems unlikely to do so.
Fundamentally, if any political party comes to me and asks for a donation, they are very unlikely to receive anything. However, if after an election the party for which I cast a ballot gets $1.75 of my tax dollars, I have no problems with that.
you voted for the most left wing US presidential candidate in history, and now support a “coalition” of parties so divergent one of the parties opposes Canada itself. (and claim that support is “on party lines” despite the fact that public opinion polls show the conservatives and Harper more popular now than during the election).
I’m seriously doubting your conservative bona fides here.
The problem I have with the abstracted donations of the people through campaign finance is that the parties are thus less beholden to the people they claim they represent, as a political party can get votes far more easily than they can get donations (as you’ve pointed out yourself). If you eliminate the middleman, however, the political party in question must convince someone to part with their money rather than have it expropriated by the government and then given to them.
I didn’t say this in the note, but the present system is also pointedly biased to established parties, who no longer need strong grassroot support, just votes (which in many cases they can get through simple inertia). New parties, and new grassroot ideas in established parties, are thus militated against. Seems less democratic to me, not more.
It seems to me that requiring parties to raise their own funding from small donations will force parties to be more specialized because the only people likely to give funds are those with strongly held views. Maybe this is a good thing. I have misgivings though. I don’t call myself right or left because I find things distateful on both sides of the spectrum. But I would not be surprised if those types of parties are what would evolve.
While I tend to agree with the second point you made – economies are better when less encumbered, liberal spending creates problems – then again, printing new money to make up the deficit is not something that only liberals do; it seems the conservatives of this world are as capable (and as likely) to do it. Stephen Harper’s an economist, from the school that thinks
Harper’s PR problem is that he’s ready to backpedal from campaign promises, like what he planned to do for the economy.
I also agree, in principle, with election (and system) reforms such as campaign financing – but I bet the better route forward will emerge from a working coalition than any well-meaning big-C conservative. Getting the Liberal and NDP Parties off the government tit, in favor of actual contributions from Party members? Sure! There’s a prime case for a jointly held value that ALL Parties could gladly support, if it were put to actual Party members – dare I call ’em citizens – in a rally.
That’s the thing I smell with any discussion about this, anyway – nothing but regular old partisan politics, while nothing that needs to be done actually gets done. Fixing the Canadian government is as easy as agreeing to do it in coalition, knowing full well that the ability to do useful work will be prevented by a lack of co-operation. Who is willing to co-operate to get something done? That’s why I vote for coalition.
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