It’s been quite a week. What should have been the launch of the Harper “good management of the economy” fiscal update ended up teetering the government on the brink of defeat.
Considering that the last election was called by Stephen Harper to end a dysfunctional parliament, it would be fair to say that the Prime Minister himself in this instance has poisoned the well.
The initial announcement to cancel the financial funding for political parties, based on the votes garnered in the federal election, effectively sideswiped what should have been a good communications week for the Harper Conservatives. Although the initiative itself is red meat for the Conservative core vote, it really is hard to tell how this could be considered a growth strategy for the Harper Conservatives. Instead, it appears to be aimed at weakening the opposition parties for Conservative political gain. It is little wonder that the opposition parties have cried foul.
Coming out of the last federal election with a strengthened mandate in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister’s post election remarks suggested that co-operation and problem solving would be the hallmarks of the next session of parliament. His first move in his second mandate reveals that he is looking to continue the divide and conquer strategy of his first mandate.
His withdrawal of the funding cancellation and delay of the confidence motion to December 8th is an acknowledgement by the PM he has overplayed his hand this time. Instead of dividing he had united the opposition parties around a common resistance to the government and likely given them a united platform to proactively attack the Conservatives on their proposed management of the economy.
Beyond quickly reversing the political funding decision and delaying the confidence motion to avoid defeat, it is hard to tell what will happen next. The Conservatives cannot govern without the opposition parties either capitulating or being divided. He has now given them resolve and temporarily, at least, united the opposition.
The latest Nanos national poll conducted earlier this month showed a tighter post-election race between the Conservatives and the Liberals, with Liberal, NDP and Green party support all up. Likewise, Canadians are in a dour mood on the economic prospects for 2009.
The risk, however, is not likely just for the Conservatives but also for the opposition parties. As Canadians worry about their job security, their savings and the future, they will likely punish the party or leader that plays politics in this time of economic turmoil.
What do you think about was has happened and what will happen?
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