Even though I haven't blogged on it yet I have been following the budget coverage over the past few days.
Initial reaction: amid the uncontrollable excitement and exhilaration that I felt over the unusable tax credit that I will be able to get for my scrapheap of a vehicle, and the new RESP provisions that will be about as helpful to current heavily-indebted students as the BC Liberals' 'baby bonus', I couldn't help but feel that Canada's New Government was missing the point of minority parliaments.
Flaherty stated unequivocally Monday, as this Conservative government has maintained since the beginning, that the government "will not negotiate" the budget with the other political parties. This seems contrary to reason to me. I understand that there aren't many examples of successful minority governments for the Conservatives to look to, but I can think of one obvious flop of a minority parliament that Harper may want to learn a lesson or two from. It began with Joe Clark saying "I am going to govern as if I have a majority" and it ended 9 months later somewhat embarrassingly for Clark and the Progressive Conservatives.
Of course, I could be way off in thinking that their approach may be strategically misguided. After all, they have been able to count on the supposedly progressive Bloc to prop them up without asking for anything in return for two years in a row now.
But let's just forget for a moment that we are measuring the success of this minority government by their ability to win a majority of seats in the next election. What's far worse than this my-way-or-the-highway approach being of questionable strategic value, is that it is bad for the country and ultimately undemocratic. A large majority of Canadians in the last election voted against the Conservatives. That means that a large majority of Canadians do not want a rigidly Conservative budget that is put together with no consultation from, or negotiation with the other parties elected to the house.
It's not good enough to guess what the other parties might want and meet them at what seems to Conservatives as 'halfway.' This is especially true when it comes to the subsidies to the oil industry. Gradually scaling down the subsidies to large oil companies will do nothing to slow down the extraction from the tar sands which are the single largest contributer to greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. And with gas prices at a record high, why should these companies get any more of Canadians' money?
Jack Layton said it best when he said that "for every step forward there seems to be two steps back." This astute observation applies to the way that the Conservatives have handled this minority parliament as a whole actually. Just when you think that the Conservatives might be willing to work with the other parties- they did give in to the demands of the NDP and set up a committee around the Clean Air Act- they prove that they are as unreasonable and stubborn as ever.
4 hours ago