Harper is continuing his bullying way, but this time the opposition parties have been quick in calling his bluff. Rather than dealing with the economic problem, he is playing politics. The economic plan Finance Minister Flaherty has come up with offered no major new spending. Instead, he proposes to cancel the subsidy that parties get ( $1.95 per vote ). This money make a large amount of their war chest and was brought into force by the Chretien Gov't as a means of limiting the influence of big business and big union, by limiting the amount that they can contribute.The Liberals and the Bloc benefit the most from this subsidy as fully 2/3 of their revenue last year was from this source. The Conservatives got only about 35% of their funds from it. Obviously, the Conservatives saw a means of dealing a crippling financial blow on them. Another proposal was to suspend the right to strike for civil servants thtrough 2010-2011.
The opposition parties responded by threatening to bring down the government, through a vote of non-confidence. They are careful to emphasise that it is the lack of economic initiative by the Conservatives that they oppose. A defeat, would mean the end of the Harper Gov't. Should that happen, two options will emerge. The Governor- General can call a new election ( it brings to mind the King/ Byng Affair 1926, when then P.M. King , in order to avoid a vote of non-confidence asked the then G.G. Byng, to dissolve parliament and call a new election. Byng refused and instead, asked Arthur Meighen, the conservative leader to form a government. Byng's rsefusal was based on the fact that an election had just been held and that the Official Opposition should be given the opportunity to form a government. Meighen was unable to do so and thus an election was held. King used the campaign to attack the office of G.G. He won the election with a majority and immediately proceeded to demand from Britain constitutional limits on the G.G. It resulted in the Statute of Westminister, which gave Canada more control over its affairs, eg. no more veto of Canadian laws by the British Parliament....Canada's full independence from Britain would not come until the Patriation of the Constitution with full amending power in 1981).The second option is to do, what Byng did, and that is to ask the Official Opposition to form a government.
This is interesting, because the Liberals do not have the numbers to form a viable govenment by themselves. They need the support of both the NDP and the BQ. The BQ has made it known that they will not be part of a coalition gov't, but are willing to prop up a coalition of the Liberals and the NDP. There has only been instance in Canadian history that there has been a coalition gov't, and that was during the Conscription Crisis, 1917, when the country was split along linguistic lines over the issue. It was short-lived and ended with the end of the war.
The REF/CON have bitten off more than they can chew. Either they back down or face defeat. They have already started to back peddle, postponing for one week the vote on their measure. Now the propaganda battle begins, with the REF/CON accusing the opposition of wanting to grab power without the benefit of an election and the opposition accusing the gov't of doing nothing to deal with the economic crisis. This self-inflicted problem is typical of the mistake prone REF/CON. The idealogues ( Harper, Flaherty, Clement et.al ),are so fixated in their dogma, that they refuse to accept that increased gov't spending, coupled with tax cuts are necessary . The USA, Japan, the EU and even China have come to this realisation, but not the idealogical driven Harper.
Who will back down?