Contemplating a Coalition on the Left and the Potential Destruction of the Liberal Party of Canada

by matttbastard

Today the Stephen Harper Party officially took the helm of Canada’s 40th Parliament, warning of severe economic strife on the horizon–a gloomy forecast that has some Serious commentators hopping on their trusty Magical Unity Ponies Hobby-Horses. Thankfully, in the midst of all the fuzzy-as-a-blue-sweater-vest non-bi-post-partisan sentiment, erstwhile Tyee columnist Murray Dobbin has dared to cut an echoing fart from the left flank, outlining how behind the scenes plans to craft “a parliamentary accord between the Liberals, Bloc and NDP” continue unabated.


[The accord] would take the form of a Liberal minority government, following a non-confidence vote, with a proposal to the Governor General that the three parties would agree to govern for at least two years.

It would be based on a limited policy agenda — for example, child care, climate change, the Kelowna accord, early troop withdrawal from Afghanistan — defined by the considerable overlap in the three parties’ election platforms.

The Liberals’ Bay Street agenda would be put on hold as the price it paid to survive and rebuild.

Unfortunately, the Natural Governing Party isn’t too keen on making any compromises with the separatists and the socialists:

The Liberals are the ones who are holding up such an accord. They simply don’t think it would be in their interests to do so. Many in the party see their future in moving to the right, not the left. And why not let Harper deal with the economic mess, getting badly bruised in the process? The Liberals would then move in, fully refurbished, and govern once again.

But, as Dobbin explains, it ain’t that simple. All the recent placating rhetoric from Harper about putting ideology on the backburner is, to be blunt, horseshit:

…Stephen Harper’s ultimate objective is not just a majority government. It is to destroy the Liberal Party as a contender for power. The Liberals aren’t dead yet but if they’re not careful, they could be after the next election. While Stephen Harper does not relish using government to save the country’s economy, it is in this one area that he will, if he’s smart, actually behave like a minority government and seek co-operation with the opposition. Why? Because he would get the credit if somehow Canada could be saved from the worst ravages of the global recession, but he also would be able to share the blame with the opposition parties if it cannot.

Then would come the death march for the Liberals. Once Parliament has put in place measures to protect the economy, Harper will return to the agenda he prefers: social conservatism, a gradual reduction in federal spending powers, and the devolution of power to the provinces. He intends to launch round two of humiliating the Liberals into oblivion.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Related: Video of today’s Speech from the Throne (full text here)

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The Bottom Falls Out–Again.

by matttbastard


Dow hits 5-year low, closing below 8000 points.  Wheeeeee!

Related: Roubini: U.S. recession will be worst in 50 years (h/t Calculated Risk)

(image via The Brokers With Hands on Their Faces Blog)

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Quote of the Day: On ‘Populist Chic’

by matttbastard

Back in the ’70s, conservative intellectuals loved to talk about “radical chic,” the well-known tendency of educated, often wealthy liberals to project their political fantasies onto brutal revolutionaries and street thugs, and romanticize their “struggles.” But “populist chic” is just the inversion of “radical chic,” and is no less absurd, comical or ominous. Traditional conservatives were always suspicious of populism, and they were right to be. They saw elites as a fact of political life, even of democratic life. What matters in democracy is that those elites acquire their positions through talent and experience, and that they be educated to serve the public good. But it also matters that they own up to their elite status and defend the need for elites. They must be friends of democracy while protecting it, and themselves, from the leveling and vulgarization all democracy tends toward.

Writing recently in the New York Times, David Brooks noted correctly (if belatedly) that conservatives’ “disdain for liberal intellectuals” had slipped into “disdain for the educated class as a whole,” and worried that the Republican Party was alienating educated voters. I couldn’t care less about the future of the Republican Party, but I do care about the quality of political thinking and judgment in the country as a whole.

– Mark Lilla, The Perils of Populist Chic

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