December 2, 2008
Today was the most vehement Question Period the Canadian House of Commons has seen for quite a while. Showing the stringent party discipline the Conservatives are famous for, every Conservative member referred to 'the separatists and the socialists' in response to every question put them by the opposition members. The opposition members were also pretty much on-message, referring to 'this government that has lost the confidence of Parliament' in most of their statements.
At this point, the only strategy the Conservatives are presenting is to persuade us all to be terrified of the big "S" team -- separatists and socialists. 'Socialist' is a term that doesn't have much sting out here, as we tend to think of it in terms of warm fuzzy things like medicare and old age pensions. Given that the 'free-market' approach has pretty well fallen on its face lately, a lot of people might think a little socialism could be be a good thing. Apparently local Conservative organizations have been phoning up their members and encouraging them to 'blitz' local radio talk shows and flood them with their fears that a coalition will lead Canada straight to separatist hell. I know a fair number of Conservatives (my riding usually puts out a 60-70% Conservative vote) but none of them give a rat's ass about separatism. I can't say how people in the rest of Canada feel, but I really doubt if the majority of citizens are going to get too riled up about having the Bloc take part in Parliament. Some might even recall how Harper was perfectly fine with having the Bloc participate when they were voting on his side. Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe said today that Harper gave the opposition the idea of coming up with a coalition, as the Conservatives suggested much the same thing the last time they were in the opposition.
The Governor-General is currently flying back to Canada. Monday is the day when things are going to be decided.
Or are they? Currently, the most probable outcome is that Parliament will be prorogated (postponed) until late January. This will give the Conservatives time to try to rejigger their budget in hopes of producing one that someone other than a Conservative would vote for. One Conservative cabinet minister hinted strongly that they were going to strongly influence non-Conservative members to leave the coalition and join with them. I don't know what combination of carrots and sticks they will come up with, but they do have a lot of cash on hand. Postponing things until January will also make a call for yet another election seem somewhat more workable, plus it would be close enough to the coming Liberal leadership campaign that some Liberal candidates may wish to jolly along the current government until a new leader is chosen. Author Linda McQuaig refers to Liberal hopeful Michael Ignatieff as a 'neo-conservative' and if she is correct he would be very likely to do what he could to bring down a coalition in favour of a Liberal party with himself at the helm.
So what's a citizen to do? Well, it might help if quite a few more of us got up off our asses and voted. Voter turnout last time was the lowest ever. Last time I had six candidates to choose from (and I live out in the boonies) so you can't use the 'no choice' argument. If none of the choices suit you, you can always run yourself. Up until then, don't get panicked, even by the "S" words.
Please email the governor general now and tell her how you feel. The Conservatives are massing their troops to send out their party line, so if you don't agree with their point of view, now is the time to let her know.