Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Harper foils another Liberal plot to take over the World"

Great editorial in today's National Post, with a funny pic too...

Steven and the Brain: Harper foils another Liberal plot to take over the World
Kelly McParland - Politics Editor, National Post
October 31, 2007

Judging by the tenor of the latest bulletins from the nation’s capital, Stéphane Dion struggles awake every morning with just one issue on his mind:

Should I defeat the Tories today?

Would it be better to wait and defeat them tomorrow?

If I defeat them next week, would it be better than defeating them a month from now?

If I don’t defeat them now, when can I defeat them?

Maybe I should defeat them in the spring. Would that be more beneficial than defeating them in the fall? How about defeating them at Christmas — that worked pretty good for Harper, even though everyone said voters wouldn’t stand for a Christmas election.

Which is pretty demeaning when you think about it. It suggests that, like Pinky and the Brain, the two mildly deranged mice in the Steven Spielberg cartoon of the same name, the leader of Canada’s biggest opposition party spends every day the same way he spent the last: Trying to take over the World.

Mr. Dion probably has other things on his mind — convincing Quebecers he isn’t some federal version of Darth Vader, for instance — but you’d never know it. Learned reports on his activities have for months now focused on pretty much one question: Can he beat the Tories? Should he try it now, or later?

Thus Jim Flaherty’s mini-budget Tuesday is judged as a resounding defeat for the Liberal boss. Mr. Flaherty was barely off the TV screens after revealing his plans to — of all people — a roomful of journalists, when Mr. Dion was trotted out and forced to confess he would instruct his troops to support the government, just as they supported them a week ago on the Throne Speech, and will likely support them on the crime package. Sorry Pinky, World Domination will have to wait another day.

Mr. Flaherty, it turns out, was just too wily for the struggling Mr. Dion. The sack load of tasty tax treats he distributed in the National Press Theatre are designed to be consumed not just today, but at regular intervals over the next few months, right up until the spring when — wham! — Mr. Flaherty can bring down another budget containing even more giveaways. The GST cut kicks in on Jan 1. (a mean trick, it seems, on Christmas shoppers); the reduced tax band is backdated to last January, so everyone who gets a tax refund will get a bigger one than they expected. The corporate tax cut is bigger than the Liberals proposed cut, forcing them to try and outbid the Tories if they still hope to use that as a policy weapon.

While assuming that Mr. Dion thinks of nothing other than engineering a timely election, informed thinking has similarly taken for granted that Mr. Harper manoeuvres relentlessly to box Mr. Dion into making his move at the wrong time. The Prime Minister, we’re told, wants a majority. He thinks he can get one from the bumbling Mr. Dion. He can’t call the election himself, so he needs to trick the Liberal boss into doing it for him.

Except that Mr. Harper’s actions don’t seem to accord with that scenario. Tuesday’s mini-budget was written to be bullet-proof: even two crazed mice trapped in a cage at Acme Labs wouldn’t be dumb enough to defeat it, though apparently Jack Layton would. Far from dangling the prospect of an election, it does all a government could do to prevent that from happening. So — barring a catastrophe — the government lives through the winter until spring, when it unveils more tax cuts, ensuring it lives through the summer until fall. At which point we’re just a year from the fixed date for the next election anyway. Would the opposition really want to trigger a vote — annoying Canadians and costing hundreds of millions of dollars — when a new minority would face another campaign within 12 months?

Maybe so. Mr. Harper has shown his tactical skills are nothing to be sniffed at. Maybe he figures the best way to trigger an election is to appear not to want one. Or maybe he actually means what he says, and intends to govern through to October 2009. If you had the prospect of two years in power with Stéphane Dion as your opponent, would you be eager to bring it to an end, risking a new minority and a new, more adept, Liberal leader?

Kelly McParland is Politics Editor of the National Post

Photo Illustration: Jeremy Barker/National Post; REUTERS/Chris Wattie; Warner Brothers

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