Ignatieff's decision, necessarily

The immediate fate of the Coalition is not in Layton’s hands

Opposite opposition reaction?

The shape of things to come

Ottawa — You won’t have seen this picture (above) on your television, because it hasn’t happened… yet. We blended two TV images digitally to make it. Oh! The wonders of news media and digital imagineering.

But you may very well see something like this on the evening news this Wednesday when interim Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff reveals whether his party is going to support Jim Flaherty’s extremely stimulating budget.

If as all the political pundits have repetitiously been suggesting, he does support it, NDP leader Jack Layton’s eyes undoubtedly will take on that same steely look they had after Stéphan Dion’s first attempt at making a U-Tube video, and his moustache will be all of a quiver.

We tried to capture that flinty look, but like the Coalition itself our image is a bit of a hurriedly assembled mashup. Nothing’s perfect, eh?

Ignatieff’s dilemma

Ignatieff’s dilemma rests on the fact that after an exhaustive public consultation process that drew heavily on the advice of the country’s business élite, Harper and Flaherty may have put together a stimulus package acceptable to many, except perhaps the environmentalists.

It even recognises the need for massive government deficits — a tangible victory for the Coalition; its first (and maybe only) success.

We know this because the endless pre-budget announcements: $7billion in infrastructure spending; $1.5billion in new training funds for laid-off workers; $2billion into social housing and even support for home renovations — have made this the most transparent budget in Canadian history. And I thought that conservatism meant keeping with tradition.

The Opposition can quibble about the details, reminding us how tardy the Harper government has been in releasing cash to already-promised programs. And Canada’s premiers and mayors will no doubt protest loudly that it’s not enough cash to satisfy all their infrastructure needs.

But really, what’s not to like about loads of money, especially as it won’t be the generations who created this trouble that will be paying for it?

Rebuilding the Liberals?

Ignatieff may not be left with enough reasons to dismiss the budget, and Harper’s minority government along with it. But this may be his best and only chance of moving the Conservatives aside in the immediate future.

This may not be his intent. Many Liberals still cling to the belief that they are Canada’s “natural governing party,” and I believe that Ignatieff plans to resurrect it from the ashes left by its former leaders. For this he needs time. Debasing his regal currency by plunging into coalition government with Layton’s ‘working families’ may be not what Count Ignatieff wants.

Jack Layton needs the coalition because it would lift the NDP above its immutable glass ceiling of voter support. Michael Ignatieff thinks that he doen’t need the coalition because he and his Liberals believe they can win back power alone. On this, both he and they are entirely wrong.

Still bearing the taint of the Gomery Inquiry and with three other parties fighting for the centre vote, the Liberals are unlikely to win an outright majority. It’s the Coalition necessarily, and necessarily the Coalition.

Permanent tax reductions

The only reason that the Liberals can use to dismiss the budget is that it contains permanent tax reductions for the middle and upper classes that will ensure that the nation’s recovery will be a long and rocky road.

Tax reduction is Stephen Harper’s, the Fraser Institute’s, and the Calgary School of Neo-Conservative Economic’s mantra. The neo-cons believe in this so fervently that it is second to only the Rapture in their hearts.

By building permanent tax reductions into the budget, Harper and Flaherty can ensure that they will have enough justification to reduce government services, one cut at a time, while the recovery staggers on.

Tax reductions must inevitably be followed by service cuts: you can’t have one without the other. Service cuts benefit only those affluent enough to be able to buy their way into the safety of social superiority.

Noblesse oblige

Neo-conservatives such as Harper and Flaherty believe that they deserve affluence because they are smart and work hard. They look down on the poor as being lazy and stupid, and believe they don’t deserve anything.

It’s called entitlement, the mark of a self-agrandised élite that has forgotten how to be a real citizen. Stephen Harper’s brand of North American neo-conservatism comes without the social responsibility that gives an enlightened aristocracy its true class. Harper and the neo-cons are mean. They hate the poor and do not deserve to rule.

It is for this reason, because of the covert meanness underlying the inclusion of yet another permanent tax reduction, that the aristocratic Michael Ignatieff should oppose the budget of January 2009, and replace Stephen Harper’s Conservatives with a coalition government that will help all Canadians equally through this difficult time.

The likelihood, though, is that he won’t.

Majority Coalition Canada

Posted in Canada | 6 Comments » |

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6 Responses to “Ignatieff's decision, necessarily”

  1. Behrouz wrote:

    While democracy has infinite forms, the most powerful form is the one which is more relying on direct people’s votes, including different layers of society.

    Hence, the coalition makes power more colourful, more appealing to minorities and less prone for dictatorship type of governing the country.

    On the other hand though, it creates some problems of it’s own, the type partners have, harder to reach to a decision. Also, it tends to be less stable.

    All in all, it expresses almost all the voters, either majority or minorities. As it shows here, ideally may occur, one majority and multiple minorities, or less fortunately, multiple minorities, which one is more numerate ( in case of Canada, right now). it sounds like the more immigrants come to live here, the more colourful votes we get.

    A natural response to the situation is coalition which we can see in a number of democracies around the globe.


  2. Evelyn Steinberg wrote:

    I was in full support of the coalition when formed but Iggy is clearly not and it would never had been born if he had been leader at that time, He wants to be the next Emperor and I can’t see him sharing power with anyone, especially Layton and Duceppe, even if he needs them. The coalition worked when it was first formed – what role does it have now or has the job been done? Time will tell what Iggy is able to pull off.

    As for the current Emperor, he is remarkably skilled at setting things up so he wins and everyone else loses. (Gee, I wish he’d use his smarts to run the country in MY behalf!) See the shadows of that in the budget. The best news may be that the old reform supporters feel the emperor has no clothes on and they are planning to rout him. I fully encourage that so that Steve will be kept busy protecting himself from insiders. If the far, far right decides to splinter off, so much the better. Then the minority government can be held in check for some time until an election is appropriate. Contrary to the wishes of supposedly many others, I believe a very expensive election now is the last thing we need. There are a lot of issues facing him, some going to court, that may help the voters see who the emperor is much more clearly.

  3. Gail Mackenzie wrote:

    The fact that Ignatieff is considering the budget is a shame, as Harper and his con-bots have proven time and time again they cannot be trusted. Not only that but name calling and all the condescending attitudes during last sessions.

    The principal of it all is Harper avoided a non confidence vote, not once but twice. He used the additional time to campaign of sorts.

    The budget is largely Liberal ideals, but not clear as to where it will go, if it will.

    The fact that Harper hired 18 senators during a prorogue, should be hauled into question.

    I think Iggy is playing safe………

    Dion showed courage with the direct approach, we do not trust you. Though we do not know Ignatieff’s decision yet, the fact that he is considering it, is sad as the non confidence vote should go forth.

  4. neoconLOL wrote:

    You might want to look up what “neo-conservative” means before throwing it around.

    Call Harper a fiscal conservative, social conservative, jerk, idiot, environment hateretc or whatever.

    But this is a neo-conservative:

    Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the United States. Its key distinction is in international affairs, where it espouses an interventionist approach that seeks to defend what neo-conservatives deem as national interests.

    So please give me examples where Canada unilaterally intervened in foreign policy to serve national interests? We’re in Afghanistan – soon to be going there hand in hand with Obama singing cumbaya. NATO is also there.

    I’m not a CONservative fan at all. But please, get a clue as to why the “neo” part is used.

    It has nothing to do with tax cuts or spending cuts.

    Writing it out as such makes you look like a clown.

    Libertarians want spending and tax cuts, heck they want all taxes eliminated. Does that make them neocons?

  5. Patricia Seeley wrote:

    I’m afraid that Michael Ignatieff has decided to form a coalition with Stephen Harper and the right, instead of with the splintered “left-of-centre” majority. Too bad. But in my experience, the Liberal party has always spoken left and governed right, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The coalition of left-of-centre voters was short-lived because of two factors:

    – nobody liked the look of a Dion-run coalition

    – Bob Rae did not become the leader of the Liberal Party. If he had, there might have been some hope for a left-of-centre coalition, but no longer.

    What next? I don’t know. I think at the very least, the “left” needs to re-examine its politics and its economics. How can we work with the Greens? How can we take on profit-driven capitalism (which is at the root of the current economic crisis)without falling back on discredited and boring marxism? How much do we all know about the current financial system and the changes proposed by micro-credit guru, Muhammad Yunus? Is that the direction we ought to start looking? I tend to think so. We need to educate ourselves! Why put billions and trillions of dollars into “stimulating” an economy that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer, wreaks the environment and ignores imaginative options for creating a clean and socially just planet? Why?

  6. Peter Ramsey wrote:

    Hey, about a coalition where we support Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative Party? After all, they are the ones ruling the country right now and have stood up to the banking bullies.

    The real threat to Canada is the lunatic left.

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