Monday, January 31, 2011

The Coming Fall

No real major guidelines for the post this week, though I am going to talk a bit about the Federal Election speculation that is continuing to gain a lot of ground.

With Parliament back in session, we can go from a game of they said/we said to an attempt to ask a valid question and receive an answer. All signs are pointing to the opposition parties being unable to support the Conservative budget that will come down in March; which, unless an opposition coalition is formed in the aftermath, would lead to an election.

I'd like to explore the reasons why we're heading to an election, if the readers will indulge me.

Yet again, the Conservative Government has closed the door on negotiations. They've talked numerous times to the media about working with Parliament, but each time an opportunity to do so comes along, they posture and bully the opposition.

The Conservatives seem to have the idea that being in government means that their decisions and thoughts take precedence over the other Members of Parliament. While this mindset would hold true in a majority government, it does not work in a minority government. Look to the UK, for example.

In their minority government they have a coalition of Conservatives with Liberal Democrats; and in the recent months, the Liberal Democrats have voted with the government to remove a freeze on tuition rates and increase them. This is despite the Liberal Democrats being opposed as a party to a raise on tuition rates, and they even campaigned on this issue.

Why do I mention this?

I mention it because it shows a compromise. As it stands, our government is unwilling to compromise, especially when it comes to key ideological planks in their platform. After all, would stimulus spending even have passed through the House if the opposition parties didn't all vote in favour and basically force the government to act?

Getting back on track, the Conservatives continue to refuse to acknowledge the concerns of the opposition. Right now, business tax rates sit at 18% and the Conservatives want to lower that rate to 15%. The opposition is saying now is not the time, given the economic woes that continue to abound, to lower the tax rate by 3%.

Now, I think that's reasonable. Given that the tax cut isn't major, as say dropping it from 18% to say 12 or 10%, there's no real need to push through a 3% tax cut. Yet, the Conservatives refuse to budge.

The Liberals and NDP have said that they will read the budget and then decide whether or not they could support it; but both have also said that they will oppose it on the grounds of this tax rollback. The NDP have given a bit more leeway, given that if other key concerns are addressed they could support the budget.

The Bloc on the other hand, has made a series of demands that will never be met (including compensation payments for Quebec for adopting the HST years ago), so we already know the Bloc will be voting against the budget.

Harper has said often that the opposition is forcing an election, when it truth it is the Conservatives themselves that are forcing this election. If the Conservatives, like a good majority government (think Pearson), were willing to make compromises and work with the opposition parties (and much like Pearson, that means passing through policies that the opposition have come up with) then this election could be avoided.

But since that means acting outside of ideological driven beliefs, the Conservatives are unlikely to reach across the aisle and actually find common ground with the opposition. As such, when we Canadians go to the polls, keep in mind that it was the Conservatives who forced this election by refusing to make concessions; not the opposition parties.

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