Saturday, February 20, 2010

The next political error?

As has consistently been the case, in good times or bad Harper and his conservative bullies have never been able to resist any chance they have to be hyper-partisan and to stick it to their opponents in the House. They obsessively hate the fact that other parties exist and they are particularly angry that, because they are forced to work with a minority, the opposition has the ability to set certain terms in the legislative process. After all, nothing bothers a tyrant more than checks on his tyranny. 

So given their history of 'bill in mouth' disease, what will they come up with in the throne speech, which we will hear soon, to further poison the already toxic atmosphere that they have worked so hard to create in Ottawa. We know there will be something. One of the greatest moments of political irony I have ever witnessed was the one where Stephen Harper told the country that the opposition was intransigent and was unwilling to make Parliament work and therefore he was 'forced' to call an election. Harper is desperate to destroy democratic processes in any way that he can in pursuit of his elusive majority and the highest weapon in his arsenal is the creation of a toxic atmosphere that alienates a large segment of the population from the political process completely, thus leaving himself with a core of right-wing voters, making his political demise much less likely. 

Just over a year ago Harper's proposed poison pill was the elimination of the dollar seventy-five per vote funding that political parties receive for each vote they get. This was a blatant attempt to undermine political diversity in the country. This would have happened because the more MPs a party has, the more financial incentives they get to do their work in and out of parliament as well as receiving the greatest incentive, and the one that is in a sense priceless, which is the built in advertising that they get from having a high profile in the House. Even its strongest advocates agree that the First Past the Post system has some problems and the largest of these is that it can leave huge portions of the population completely unrepresented in the Legislative process. The per vote grant is a very small way of trying to correct this problem because a party that receives, say, ten percent of the vote but no representatives can still do some of the work necessary for a political party to continue to contribute to the political agenda of the country. There is talk that Harper may attempt to revisit this poison pill one more time in the next Throne Speech. 

But Harper definitely has something of a dilemma. And that dilemma is that he has done so many small things to undermine democracy and stick it to the opposition that he has very little left to do that would not be so obviously provocative and anti-democratic that it would not bring down serious voter anger upon his head. The last stupid move that Harper made was the prorogation of parliament which created something of a political storm. 

But I am sure that Harper will come up with something to further poison the political atmosphere in Ottawa. The irony is that most of Harper's anti-democratic moves have been small, quiet, behind the scenes moves that few people notice and even fewer understand. Because of this, it has always been Harper's big, public, stupid mistakes that have continued to mire him in a minority position. And any real conservative would understand that not only is he not really a Conservative (only an opportunist), but that if Harper cannot deliver a majority when his had the sponsorship scandal and Dion as opposition leader, he probably will never be able to deliver one. However as a tyrant, Harper was smart enough to completely gut the Conservative Party of any decent potential replacements which makes it nearly impossible for the Conservatives to get rid of him without placing themselves back into the proverbial political wilderness. 

But they will come up with something, either an intentional poison pill or an ill-considered stupid, bull in a china shop sort of move that will send us once again into a political fire-storm. What will it be? 

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