Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Liberal Minority Government in Canada

I believe that a minority will be good ... I just wish either the Libs or the NDP had one about two more seats so that it would be truly an NDP-dependant minority.

There are a couple of interesting factors. Thanks to the election expenses legislation Chr├ętien put through, both the Libs and Cons. have to repay major money because their vote share was much lower than predicted. The NDP and the Bloc, on the other hand, get big cheques. Given that the Libs and Cons. can no longer just go and tap their corporate supporters to clean up campaign debts, I have the feeling that the parties are not going to be in too, too, big a rush to go to the polls again. They both owe huge amounts right now. So that means the Conservatives won't likely be spoiling to defeat the government. I don't think the NDP or the Bloc will either because the third and fourth parties don't usually do very well in an election that follows a minority government. What the NDP wants to re-create is the situation of the 1960s ... where Lester Pearson kept getting re-elected, but also kept getting minorities. And I have a feeling that we might be ready for that. I think the public is sick of majorities that just do what they want and ignore everybody else. So, if the public is smart enough to put two and two together and come up with that conclusion, we might see a re-run of the 1960s.

As for the budget, it is just like any other vote deemed a "confidence question." If the government loses the vote, the government will be dissolved and the GG will either ask Harper to form a government (unlikely) or call an election. Can Martin pass a budget? I think the odds are very good if he delivers on his key promises: health care, housing, cities, day care. Both the Bloc and the NDP would probably support a budget like that. On the other hand, if he tries to pass the kind of budget for which he's famous (tax-cutting, debt repaying, program-destroying), the Conservatives might very well support it. So, either way, his odds are pretty good. Where I think he'll fuck up, if he does, is in trying to put forward a budget that is all things to all people. In other words, he'll put some kind of program expansion in it, but also want to continue to pay down debt. That, in my view, would be very risky because it wouldn't be enough in either direction to cause the parties to support it, and it would give them solid reasons to NOT support it. (Can the Conservatives support the creation of a national day care? .... I doubt it. Could the NDP support paying down debt when other key programs are cash-starved? I doubt it).

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