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Harper’s Blunder

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Despite their ideological dissimilarity, Stephen Harper seems to be emulating the parliamentary strategery of Joe Clark, which apparently will lead to Canada’s left-leaning electoral majority retaking power. A couple notes:

  • This was really an incredible blunder on Harper’s part. Did he think that the opposition parties would just fail to notice the key triggering proposal — an end to public party financing — would have left them at a huge disadvantage? You can get away with that kind of thing in a typical Canadian majority government, but of course Harper didn’t have one. It should also be noted that this policy was embedded in an idiotic neo-Hooverite budget package, which was as bad on the merits as it was bad politically.
  • As Yglesias notes, this could represent a significant shift in Canadian politics, as outside of wartime Canada has not had European style coalition governments. Because there isn’t a PR system even pluarolity votes generally produce parliamentary majorities, and in relatively rare cases of minoritiy governments pluaralities have governed through informal arrangements with other parties. Should the current fractured party system endure, however, coaliton governments seem inevitable. (One would think that such a party system won’t endure without PR, but Canadian federalism may provide an exception to the general rule.)
  • Since the Conservatives had already withdrawn the policies must unacceptable to them, though, I wonder why the Liberals are choosing this particular time to bring down the government; it might seem more logical to wait until new leadership was in place. But I guess they saw the oppurtinity and took it, although perhaps they may decide at the last minute to bide their time. Let me just say: no Ignatieff.
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