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?
The appointment of Timothy Geithner, head of the Federal Reserve in New York, who had played an important role in preventing the collapse of the financial system, by steering the bailout of Bear Stearns, AIG and Citigroup, and who was one of Obama's closest adviser at the height of the Wall Street crisis, as Treasury Secretary, coupled with the naming of Lawrence Summers ( Treasury Sect. under Clinton ) as director of the National Economic Council; University of California-Berkeley professor Christiona Romer ( an expert on US economic crises ), as head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Melody Barnes ( vice-president of the liberal think tank, Centre for American Progress ) as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, has sent a clear and strong message to Wall Street. The markets reacted positively, going up 500 points on Friday and 400 points on Monday.
Pres-elect Obama realise that he needed to send a much needed signal, that he is willing and prepared to act decisively, even though he is not as yet sworn in. He has seized the economic initiative with the announcement of his team and his outlining of his goal to create 2.5 million jobs and to spend massively to improve infrastructure, alternative energy technology and tax cuts for the working class ( 95% ). He knows that the window of opportunity is not large and that he has to show that he is completely in charge. So far, so good.
On a less positive note, civil groups are reportiong a rise in hate crimes against ethnic minorities. Hundreds of incidents of racial hatred have been reported according tro the Southern Poverty Law Centre. Far- right groups ( KKK ), are capitalising on rising unemployment and a demographic shift, that could result in making whites a minority by 2050. Pres-elect Obama will have to ensure that the situation does not become untenable. He must act swiftly and must clearly demonstrate that he is listening and doing what is necessary. Time and action are of the essence.
On another note, George W. Bush is leaving a toxic legacy as he prepares to leave office. He is issuing last minute regulations to help out special interests groups, letting truck drivers stay on the road for longer hours, allowing more mine-waste dumping in waterways, and easing limits on pollution from power plants and chemical factories. There is a mandatory 60 days waiting period, after which it will be difficult to change these regulations. Bush is ignoring the will of the voters. They voted for change, but he is leaving them with more of the same. He could not get these measures thtrough Congress, so he has decided to by-pass Congress and reward these polluters. This last-minute legacy is a slap in the face of the people and a reward to the special interests that have controlled his administration
The expectations are very high for the incoming President Obama. He is expected to solve " toute suite ", all that ails America. It must be pointed out that he has so far not demonstrated the ability to walk on water.
Another day and another set of promises and " change of mind ". Charest is now willing to pay for the first two attempts of in vitro fertilization. Pauline after saying on Sunday that " if I had to do it over, I would do it over ", now says " Jamais " " Would I do that again ? Jamais, Jamais "She is refering to the drastic cuts to health and education in the 1990's, when she was Education and then Health Minister when 1,500 doctors and 4,500 nurse were bought out by the PQiste government. In the meantime, Mario is taking the blame for his party slide in the polls, saying that he was not prepared to lead his large complement of MNAs, most of whom did not know what to do.
Charest claimed that he called this election, because the opposition parties were making it impossible for his gov't to deal with the economic crisis, because of constant threat to bring down the government. This is a lie, as both parties have promised just days before that not to bring it down. Charest called this election because the polls show that he can win a majority and he wants to take advantage of the disarray in the PQ and \the ADQ. This is understandable, but he preferred to lie to the public. He has insulted them and they will deny him a majority.
The visit today of President-elect Barack Obama, to the White House, has been along time coming, and somewhat ironic. The White House, was built with slave labour and many slaves and free blacks worked there, first , doing menial tasks ( cleaning, gardening, cooking, chlidcare etc ). then later as clerks and sentries and still later as Cabinet members. Now finally, President Obama and the First Family, will become the residents.
Like rabid hyenas feeding on carrion, that is what the McCain, starategists/aides ( Steve Schmidt, Mark Salter, Rick Davis, Nicole Wallace ),are doing in their attack and blame mongering on Palin, They are cowards who hide behind anonymity, in their assault on her. They are hoping to rebuild their tattered reputation by leaks and innuendoes to a slavering media, that must find something to entertain their audiences, now that the election is over and/or before they can begin their feeding frenzy on " things Obama ".
55 wealthy, white men met in Philadelphia, in 1787, to rewrite the Constitution and thus save the American union. The Articles of Confederation, had established a confederal system, with the powers in the hands of the constituent units...the States, with the Federal Govt. having symbolic and ceremonial powers. It was chaos, politically and economically, with States going in their own direction. The Union was unravelling and something drastic had to be done.
A last few desperate attempts by McCain/Palin, but iacta alea est. All the hard work has been done by the candidates and now it is in the hands of the voters. Are the polls wrong? Have people been lying to pollsters? Is race going to be a dedciding factor? Has McCain/Palin last ditch desperate and vicious ads. about his name, his religion, his past associations, his aunt, his " socialism ", all the lies and distortions, have they made a difference enough to close the gap. Will there be a ' Bradley ' effect? No, No, No!!!!
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(Fig 2a) The Death of Innocents
Ishwar R. Prashad recently retired from over 47 years of teaching.