Thursday, August 14, 2008

Preparing for the next minority government

Recent polls confirm what most observers have already predicted; the best the Tories can hope for in the likely election in October or November is holding on to their minority. A more likely result is a Liberal minority.

It would probably be a good idea for progressives to start thinking about what this minority will look like. It will certainly consist of the Liberals relying on the NDP to stay in power. Green support - despite almost frantic promotion by media elites - has yet to translate into bums in seats in the House and this election won't change that. If anything Elizabeth May's decision to hitch the Green Party's star to Stephane Dion and turning the Greens into a virtual adjunct of the Liberals is likely to cost them support.

So if Dion wants to enact his Green Shift, to one degree or another he will have to incorporate the NDP's cap and trade plan to assign the costs of cleaning up pollution to the largest polluters. Better to start preparing the groundwork now rather than later.

Social spending, foreign aid, defense policy, taxation - all areas where there are distinct and very real differences between the Liberals and the NDP, and all areas where the Liberals historically have been big on progressive rhetoric and slim on action.

If anything, the Liberals are even more obsequious to big business than the Conservatives are. Will they decide that protecting their friends on Bay Street is more important than keeping promises to the voters on Main Street? Given a majority they can get away with their preferred model of campaigning to the left and then governing to the right. In a minority their choice will be to actually govern or spend the next several years whining about the NDP pulling the plug again.

Despite the bad rap that fans of the unlimited power of majority governments give minority government, it has been very, very good to believers in progressive policy. Public health care, pensions, aid to students are all policies Liberals like to point to in their resume - they are less enthusiastic about admitting they were all the result of minority governments forcing them to actually govern rather than simply manage.

So Liberals can spend the next several months sneering at NDP supporters and moaning about vote splitting while actively trying to poach NDP votes and in the process handing seats to the Conservatives - or they can start preparing for the very likely result of having to work with us.

Time to see exactly how 'progressive' they really are.

9 comments:

Mushroom said...

Will Jack Layton support the carbon tax if it is presented in the House of Commons? If not, then the Grits can go to the Bloc to get the necessary votes.

Layton does not have the leverage he had when Martin is at the helm. Might as well jump on board.

Cliff said...

We'll see. Do the Liberals really want to make deals with seperatists to stay in power? And what will they trade away?

Mushroom said...

If the Bloc kept the Harper government alive in the first year, then what makes you think Dion cannot do the same thing?

There is no trade. Quebeckers want action on climate change and a carbon tax that expands on the use of hydroelectric power in the James Bay project works perfectly for them.

Cliff said...

But not so well for ordinary Quebeckers dealing with high energy prices and then being asked by the Liberals to pay for the pollution caused by big business. A carbon tax is part of the solution, but the way the Lib's plan is constructed is far too easy on big polluters and disproportionately hard on working families - an argument that will have resonance in Quebec.

Sean S. said...

I think your post feel on the deaf ears of Mushroom there Rusty....

Mushroom said...

We shall see. To demonstrate Layton's growth potential in Quebec, the NDP needs to finish at least a strong second in St. Henri-Westmount and no worse than third in Saint Lambert by-elections. This will prove that the Decima poll is wrong.

That poll had the Grits winning all three by-elections.

Cliff said...

"To demonstrate Layton's growth potential in Quebec, the NDP needs to finish at least a strong second in St. Henri-Westmount and no worse than third in Saint Lambert by-elections."

And not meeting your personal arbitrary goal that would 'demonstrate Layton's growth potential in Quebec' would prove...what?

Did the Liberals losing Outremont, as safe a Liberal seat as ever existed in Quebec prove something?

Mushroom said...

Saint Henri-Westmount is much safer than Outremont.

It showed something. The Grits cannot take any riding in Quebec for granted.

Quebec seats are won by the air war. It is getting the message out on tv and radio.

janfromthebruce said...

If the election is called, the libs might be in it without the Green Shift logo, since the real green shift is taking them to court for appropriating their business name.
Entitled to their entitlements come to mind here.
So trying to explain a environmental initiative without the 'catchy phrase' will be so interesting, considering they are having problems explaining it with the title.

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