I’ve heard that Stephen Harper has a degree in economics. Maybe this would be more apparent in his governing if he weren’t so preoccupied with destroying his political opponents and attempting to set up a golden age of conservatism in Canada. The economy, it seems, is the thing that no one will shut up about, even though most people probably have no idea about what’s a good or bad plan to save it.
Let’s have a look back at the election. The Conservatives constantly pushed the fact that there would be no deficit. I mentioned to some people that that was a retarded idea. The surplus was already getting tremendously thin because of Harper’s previous tax cuts. It was incredibly stupid to make a promise that would box them in like that, especially given that the word crisis was being thrown around.
Essentially, the Conservatives had two choices. One was to break the promise and go into a deficit by spending on a stimulus package. The other was to do whatever it takes to balance the budget. One of these ideas was good economics. The other idea would have prolonged a recession. Thankfully, the Conservatives decided to go with good economics. Unfortunately for them, it now looks like they’ve either lied during the campaign or they just learned some introductory macroeconomics in the last week or two.
To compound on that problem, the Conservatives decided not to take an opportunity to fix the economy this week, but instead tried to destroy the opposition by taking away public financing for political parties under the guise of protecting the economy. I can’t really blame them. If their goal is to ensure permanent Conservative control of the government, then this was an excellent opportunity. If their goal is to save Canada’s economy, this is pretty much the worst thing they could be doing.
In 2003, Jean Chretien introduced some legislation that would ban corporate and union money donations, lower the personal donation limit, and create a public financing system in which each party would get $1.95 per vote per year. This way, we remove lobbyist influence and at the same time, the parties that have traditionally relied on this money won’t suddenly implode.
Now Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty want to take away this subsidy. It’s not difficult to see why. The other parties rely on the subsidy to survive. The Conservatives don’t. In scrapping the subsidy, the Conservatives will essentially bankrupt the opposition and make it impossible for them to ever challenge the Conservatives again. This is even more suspicious after the election that was seemingly called for no reason – except to drain the finances of the other parties.
The worst part is that they tried to cover this up as something to help the economy. If you want to reform party financing, go ahead, just don’t try to pass it off as a consequence of fiscal policy. And I don’t care what you think about the current state of party financing. Trying to defeat your political opponents by deliberately running them out of money is not a win for democracy. Even more so if it leaves any opposition completely crippled.
And why is Stephen Harper so terrible? Because he only saw two outcomes to this. Either there’d be another election, which he would pretty much be guaranteed to win, likely with a majority, or the parties would wallow in their weakness and get trampled by losing all of their money and being unable to operate. He obviously didn’t think the other parties would have the spine to seriously consider a coalition. He also obviously miscalculated. And so instead of trying to solve our economic problem, he’s inflicted a political crisis on himself, all because he couldn’t let the opportunity pass to give the other parties another kick to the shins.
And now, we have the Conservatives trying to fight back by doing what they do best – spreading misinformation. Already, we’re seeing them paint the opposition as greedy and trying to undemocratically overthrow the government. This is why Civics was required in Grade 10.
So at this point there are a bunch of things that the Conservatives would like for us to forget. They’d like for us to forget that they were trying this exact same thing back in 2004 that the opposition is doing now. They’d also like for us to forget that they only had 37.6% of the vote and only have a minority government. Finally, they’d like us to forget that this minority government and coalition government stuff is how the parliamentary system is supposed to work.
Interesting times for Canadian politics, that’s for sure.