It’s not a holiday up here, so with the American MSM stuffed with turkey, what better time to foment a small coup?
An economic crisis is a fine time to suppress the opposition. This just in from CBC World Report (last story on the 8AM AST package — later: Fitz-Morris’ story squeezed out of the final version of the package):
Dwight Smith [10:50]: CBC News has learned that one of the programs first in line to get chopped today is the funding subsidy for political parties that’s based on the number of electoral votes they earned. James Fitz-Morris has more details. … Fitz-Morris: "In a time of such economic uncertainty, who would taxpayers rather see take it on the chin than politicians? Conservative politicians have been hinting for days they’ve found a way to save C$10s millions, and that other parties probably wouldn’t like it. Now CBC News has learned that the government will eliminate a C$30 million / year subsidy to political parties. And Conservatives were right about the reaction. … Green Party leader Elizabeth May: ‘This is the time for us not be be playing silly political games like canceling this relatively small amount of funding.’ … and NDP MP Thomas Mulcair says this move will do nothing to boost the economy, and is designed only to help Steven Harper‘s Conservatives. … ‘He’s taking the pretext of the economic crisis to move into an area that would have no effect on jobs, on families, on the real economy …’ the subsidy was created when large political donations by corporations were outlawed. It gives political parties C$1.95 for every vote they received in the previous election. The Conservatives stand to lose the largest subsidy, about C$10 million. But they are also best positioned to cope with this loss. Conservatives outpaced their opponents in fund-raising by a margin of almost 4 to 1. James Fitz-Morris, CBC News, Ottawa."
Silent on this question are the Liberals. They stand as a sort-of "Democratic Party" in Canada against the so-called "Conservatives," really a re-branded Reform Party that exists as a pale imitation of today’s neo-con infested US Republican Party. Like them, they are presently in office, but have better prospects of clinging to (minority) power. Complicating the mix is the Bloc Québécois, a separatist party.
The Green Party has been making significant gains in popular vote (much at the expense of the NDP), but have been shut out of Parliament — even though their nation-wide tally compares well with the regionally concentrated Bloc. Canada’s non-proportional first-past-the-post system isn’t going to suppress them much longer, so Harper is likely taking the economic crisis as a last chance to cut off their oxygen.
This is our equivalent of a political riot, but being Canadians, we generally keep it polite 😉
This overnight story focuses a bit more on the Liberals, although there seems to be some discussion about the Greens in the comments.
"Flaherty to axe subsidies to political parties in fiscal update: sources", CBC News, November 26, 2008.
Other items expected in the update:
Cuts to substantial salary increases for federally appointed judges.
Measures to rein in spending by MPs and top civil servants, such as new restrictions on travel and expenses.
Elimination or trimming of the roughly $6,500-per-MP salary increase scheduled to go into effect April 1, at a cost of $2 million.
Cancellation of Christmas bonuses for management-class civil servants and executives of Crown corporations.
Temporary relief for Canadians from mandated withdrawals from registered retirement income funds (RRIFs), a measure estimated to be worth about $135 million.
A likely concession that Canada is heading for both a recession and a deficit.
UPDATE (Sunday Nov 30th):
Harper seems much diminished following the collapse of his bullying effort.
The federal government will drop its controversial plan to eliminate political party subsidies that are based on the number of votes received during elections, CBC News has learned.
Transport Minister John Baird said Saturday the government has decided not to end the practice of giving all parties $1.95 for each vote they win, an apparent move aimed at appeasing opposition parties and averting the collapse of the government.
"Local Tory MPs pan opposition coalition idea", by Clara Ho, Edmonton Sun, November 30, 2008.
Edmonton region Tory MPs are calling the possibility of a Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition government absurd and accusing the opposition parties of initiating a coup d’etat.
"It’s an absolute sham. It’s effectively a coup d’etat if they go through with it," said Edmonton-Centre MP Laurie Hawn.
"It’s absurd beyond words," added Vegreville-Wainwright MP Leon Benoit. "I have a hard time believing this will happen."
The MPs were responding to an announcement by the three opposition parties Friday in which they revealed plans to bring down the minority Conservative government.