Politics: The Mouse That Roared
Our '80s Porn Star, leader of Ye Olde House of Orange, has applied one hell of a lot of pressure on Mr. Dithers, leader of the Perpetual Party. During minority governments is traditionally when the NDP strike, sneaking in little things like medicare, social security, pension plans... that sort of stuff. And they're trying to do it again, only this time it's affordable housing and cheaper education.
Clearly, they are in line with Satan.
Layton has been playing the Heroic Freedom Fighter card already, declaring that "...not everybody's going to like what we're doing..." Um, Jack? It's called politics.
The reaction to this has been varied: Plastic Man, leader of Team Blue , has been the most reactionary. It may be a fit of pique at getting seriously outplayed during this latest session of parliment; the Conservatives (Alliance, Reform, etc.) have never been part of a minority government, so perhaps a few splinters are inevitable the first time onto the track but with the undecided waffling of the party, perhaps the wrong man got named Mr. Dithers. (I do hope they pull it together: no glory in beating an inept opponent, after all. Just ask BCs New Socred Party after the last elections crushing of the provincial NDP.)
Quotes from Harper denouncing: "...a secret deal worth almost $5 billion..." when the deal has been announced on television aren't helping. Any more public and Martin and Layton (isn't that a comedy team from the '50s?) would be charged with exhibitionism.
Some of the tax cuts that the Conservatives were unhappy with (still paying more than zero, Steve. Sorry.) are being removed, specifically to those of "big businesses", while the cuts to "small" and "medium" sized businesses were to stay in place. Those cuts were of fairly small amounts, but the companies affected were ecstatic, right up until they realised they were dealing with a minority government and may never see those cuts. Despite the cuts not happening yet, the removal of them is somehow an unmitigated disaster. I suppose those self-same companies were so close to failing that a reduction in the corporate tax rate by 2% over the next five years was the only thing keeping them afloat. Bummer. Perhaps we should increase our corporate tax rate to match the Americans'?
In exchange for that tax cut, the NDP is using its tactic of pushing for social improvements on the budget, which is what they were unhappy about in its first announcement. Which makes the reaaction of Spooky, leader of the No One Understands Us Party, particularly interesting. He's against the new budget, despite the leftward pull of the revisions, normally Quebecs preference (I did mention we have four leftist parties in Canada, right?). Duceppes biggest complaint is that it doesn't address the "fiscal imbalance" he feels Quebec is under. The Bloc voted against the budget originally, after tugging the Conservatives hair about how they might vote.
Like the Prime Minister doesn't hear that enough at the Premiers meetings, now he's got one sitting in Parliment.
The funny thing here is that La Belle Provence would use the additional money to finance... (drumroll please)... tuition cuts and affordable housing, along with pension protection, another addition that the NDP made. So why the opposition now?
Simple, and annoying, reason: the Conservatives being in office would encourage more opposition to Federalism than the Liberals do, even with the interminable scandal inquiry. Duceppe is never going to be the leader of a nation unless Quebec seperates, though the Parti Quebecois and their leader Bernard Landry may have something to say about that.
So, with the Liberals and NDP on one side, the Conservatives and Bloc on the other, that leaves the voting (assuming party lines) at 151 in favour, 153 opposed with 3 indepentents (Carolyn Parrish, David Kilgour and Chuck Cadman). Parrish is going to go Liberal, but I don't know about the other two: I know Cadman leans towards the Conservatives, but he says he can still be swayed by his constituents.
The opposition has to give 48 hours notice that they are giving a non-confidence vote with the purpose of bringing down a sitting government (to allow for 11th hour barter and some public saber rattling), and Harper has said that he's giving notice in the next session, so we'll see who tries to woo whom during the next few days. Paul Martin has already batted his eyelashes at the Conservatives, promising to have a vote to reinstate the original corporate tax cut shortly after the vote on the modified budget in toto, leaving Layton somewhat miffed.
In short: if the Conservatives agree to vote for the new budget, and not initiate an non-confidence vote, then the tax cuts can happen. Of course, that will mean that the budget will no longer be balanced, but gee, what could Poor Paul do? The Conservatives (with their malicious "damn-the-poor" attitude) and NDP (with their underhanded, prosperity-hating socialist wiles) forced him to stray from his tight fiscal plan!
Ladies and gentlemen, may I direct your attention high overhead...