Political Maturity Spreads North.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

Back in early December, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspended the country’s legislature for more than 7 weeks in a bid to stave off a challenge from opposition parties seeking to bring down his government. This week however, with a new budget unveiled on Tuesday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty it would appear that with new Liberal leadership, political maturity is back in the great white north.

The Conservative budget includes $85 billion in projected red ink, new regional-development programs, industry-specific bailouts and a scattershot of government funding for everything from cultural festivals to community newspapers, the profoundly 'liberal' 2009-10 budget drew both outrage and deep introspection from conservatives from sea to shining sea.

The newly minted Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff made the correct decision on Wednesday in announcing that the Liberals will support the budget delivered this week. Flawed though it may be, it mostly embraces the approach the Liberals advocated – and its defeat would force the country into another prolonged period of political uncertainty that it can ill afford. Even to play a tactical game of chicken by demanding major amendments in return for the budget's passage could have forced the Liberals into a corner, creating a stand-off that Ignatieff was smart to avoid.

And most importantly Ignatieff has helped end one of the ugliest political chapters in Canada's recent history, and may well have contributed to a greater maturity in addressing the country's enormous economic challenges.

For the Liberals, at least, the threat of a coalition served its purpose. It humbled Harper, and forced the Conservatives – after holding on to government only by prolonging Parliament – to embrace many of the opposition's budgetary demands. And inadvertently, it forced the Liberals to address their own leadership issues, accelerating the replacement of Stéphane Dion by a leader with the apparent ability to seriously challenge Harper.

In the long run, however, the coalition was untenable. Forming a three-headed monster of a government, beholden to staunch leftists and sovereigntists, would have destroyed the Liberals' identity and credibility. More important, for Canada's immediate interests, it would have resulted in a fragile and unwieldy government at a time when strong and steady leadership is required.

Tags: budget, Canada, Conservatives, Harper, ignatieff, liberals (all tags)

Comments

5 Comments

tips for political maturity.

by canadian gal 2009-01-31 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Political Maturity Spreads North.
Replacing Stéphane Dion was so so so necessary. A good man, no doubt, but just not a good politician.
Michael Ignatieff seems a step in the right direction.
by Charles Lemos 2009-01-31 04:50PM | 0 recs
I'm not convinced.

Forcing major concessions on the budget was a good thing, no doubt.  But the whole purpose of the coalition in the first place was ousting Harper as PM because he had lost the confidence of Parliament.  Now, he and his cabal of nasty dishonest partisans can go un suppressing intelligence reports, stacking ministries with lazy and incompetent cronies and babbling about the virtues of tax cuts.

I believe everyone has been overemphasizing the concept of stability for its own sake, most notably the risk- (and duty-) averse governor general.  Harper should not have been rewarded for his politically-motivated "prorogue" play.

A Liberal-led coalition focusing exclusively on economic issues would have done Canada more good than this extended cat-and-mouse play with the minority Conservatives.  I'd rather Ignatieff have to negociate with Duceppe and Layton in good faith than be forced into repeated showdowns with Harper.

by corph 2009-02-02 12:01PM | 0 recs
i see your point...

but im not sure i agree with it.  another election???  just when the economy has hit the shitter and just a few months after the last?  the conservatives now know that they are hanging on by a thread and they had better act accordingly remember the conservatives won just a few short months ago.

no - iggy hung back to fight another day and i think it lends credibility to himself and the liberal party. all in all a great strategic and political move.

by canadian gal 2009-02-02 07:05PM | 0 recs
Another election

would be far from certain.  The GG has the perogative to ask the leadership of any party to form a government without calling an election.  Not sure what the apparently spineless Jean would do in that case.  She either gets accused of "enabling a coup" against the party with the most seats (and thus endangering her continued tenure as GG should the Cons win), or she annoys Canadians with another election.

Iggy is being very farsighted by trying to maximize political timing and rebuilding finances.  He's giving Harper back the initiative, who can now provoke the next election at the time of his choosing (most likely when fortuitous events favor the Conservatives).

I'm reminded of my favorite DE-motivational poster slogan when I think about this mess:

"Leaders are like eagles.  We don't have either of them here."

by corph 2009-02-05 10:37AM | 0 recs

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