The latest news is that the potential of Bloc-Liberal-NDP coalition government in waiting is shrinking a bit now that the Conservatives have promised to remove required confidence from the party welfare issue.
This is bait of course.
If the BLN coalition backs down now, Canadians will understand that their opposition to the economic statement really wasn’t about the “lack of stimulus”, the rescue of Canadian jobs, or the “protection of rights of women and workers”. The opposition and brinkmanship that was threatening a fresh election or constitutional crisis would have been about parties that are so fresh out of ideas, so unable to inspire, that they were ready to go to political war over their $1.95-per-vote handout from the Canadian taxpayer.
So, have we seen crisis averted? Better yet, has the PM been successful in floating a very useful trial balloon over the heads of the opposition? If we don’t see the government fall, or a new one form, will this have instead put the issue of campaign welfare to the fore and have raised the cynical ire of Canadians to know that in an economic crisis, the ones ready to burn the house down were the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc?
Over their entitlements?
UPDATE: Have we seen a crisis averted? No, not yet. The PM has pushed confidence votes back to December 8th and parties will have a chance then to bring down the government.
4:09pm: Persuant to a standing order I do not recall, the Minister of Finance tables his economic statement.
4:10pm: Time of unprecedented economic deterioration. Uh oh, this sounds bad.
4:11pm: IMF projects global growth weakest since ’93. Good thing the IMF puts Canada in the best fiscal position of the G7.
4:13pm: CTV reports that the Liberals will not support the economic statement. This statement is a matter of confidence and if defeated would precipitate an election.
4:14pm: Reformation of global finance will be done with global partners.
4:15pm: Trade will be expanded.
4:15pm: Opposition mocks Flaherty for saying the government planned for the downturn last year.
4:15pm: Taxes have been reduced by $200B. Investments have been made in infrastructure, S&T and training.
4:16pm: Funding for infrastructure projects. Taxes down by equivalent of 2% GDP. Sustainable and permanent tax relief.
4:19pm: Canada will come out of the crisis in a strong position because it went in a strong position.
4:21pm: Will not engineer a surplus just to say we have one.
4:21pm: Budget is balanced for now, but future injection of government stimulus may move Canada into deficit.
4:22pm: Days of chronic structural deficits are behind us.
4:23pm: Tax dollars for political parties and tax credits for donations brought up. Flaherty talking about the $1.75 per vote subsidy. Political parties should pay their own bills without excessive tax dollars.
4:25pm: $1.75 subsidy gone as of April 2009.
4:26pm: Spending growth will follow sustainable track.
4:27pm: Spending review will also look into crown corporations. Government will save $15B over the next five years because of expenditure management system.
4:28pm: re: public sector… New legislation will put in place “annual wage increases for the federal public administration, including senior members of the public service, as well as Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers, and Senators, of 2.3 per cent in 2007–08 and 1.5 per cent for the following three years, for groups in the process of bargaining for new agreements.”For groups with collective agreements already covering 2008–09, the 1.5 per cent would apply for the remainder of the three-year period starting at the anniversary date of the collective agreement. In addition, the legislation would suspend the right to strike on wages through 2010–11.” Some honourable socialist members: “oh, oh”.
4:32pm: Largest increase in infrastructure spending. $6B in spending. Aim is to provide new jobs.
4:33pm: Flaherty wants more power to help sustain the banking industry. These powers would include:
– Funding in the unlikely event that there is a draw on the Canadian Lenders Assurance Facility.
– The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) to establish a bridge bank as a further resolution tool to help preserve banking functions.
– An increase in the borrowing limit of CDIC to $15 billion to reflect the growth of insured deposits since the last increase in 1992.
– The Minister of Finance to provide the CDIC Board of Directors broader scope of action when systemic risk concerns may result from the potential failure of a member institution.
– The power to direct CDIC to undertake resolution measures when necessary to prevent adverse effects on financial stability.
– The provision to CDIC of greater flexibility in the timing of preparatory examinations.
– The Government to inject capital into federal financial institutions to support financial stability, with appropriate provisions to protect taxpayers.
4:37pm: taking action to allow RRIF holders to keep more money in their RRIFs.
4:40pm: increase available credit to the exporting sector. $350 million injection of credit for these businesses.
4:41pm: Inject an additional $350 million of capital to the BDC to help SMEs.
4:44pm: “The greatest histories are written in the toughest times”
4:45pm: Scott Brison to respond for the opposition. Demands a “real action plan”. Brison accuses Conservatives of symbolism over substance. Conservatives have provided gimmicks instead of a game plan. “Nothing for manufacturing, autos”.
4:46pm: Brison: PM wants to change the channel from economy to politics. Canadians are hurting. They want talk on economics rather than politics.
4:48pm: Brison bringing out the personal anecdotes describing real Canadians and real concerns. Liberal are making this statement out to be about that $1.75 vote subsidy cut.
4:50pm: Brison accusing the Conservatives of huge spending and huge cuts at the same time.
4:51pm: Brison: government is selling the house to pay for the groceries.
4:51pm: Brison calls Flaherty “Deficit Daddy”.
4:52pm: NDP will not support economic statement.
4:53pm: CTV reports that the government is digging in their heels on the $1.75 subsidy.
4:55pm: Brison brings up Obama and speaks about his economic team and accuses the Conservatives of schemes.
5:00pm: Brison calls for “a new deal”. Brison’s seat mate earlier called out “FDR”
5:01pm: Gilles Duceppe responds for the Bloc. Duceppe: hat was presented was not an economic statement but an ideological statement.
5:02pm: Duceppe: government blind to urgent need to stimulate the economy. Government is attacking democracy, women’s rights and worker’s rights. Government has attacked Quebec.
5:03pm: Duceppe: government has sparked a democratic crisis.
5:03pm: Duceppe: economic statement runs against Quebec’s interests.
5:04pm: Duceppe: Bloc will not cave in on its principles.
5:06pm: Duceppe: Bloc ready to support the reduction of the size of the state.
5:12pm: Bloc Quebecois will oppose the economic statement.
5:13pm: Layton responds for the NDP. He’s got his wounded face on.
5:14pm: Layton: government has failed to act on the economic crisis. Layton is speaking quietly and slowly to show concern and disappointment.
5:15pm: Here comes the anger. Now Layton is doing some finger pointing.
5:19pm: Layton applauds Duceppe and Brison for “standing up to ideology”.
5:21pm: Layton reiterates NDP’s position that they will vote against the economic statement.
On November 7th, I argued that we should end government-subsidized campaign welfare in this country and follow the example set by President-elect Barack Obama and amend our electoral system to eliminate our $1.95-per-vote subsidy received by political parties each year. During the US Presidential campaign, Obama did not take a single dollar of public financing and went on to win the election. On a panel for the Public Policy Forum yesterday, I suggested to my Obama-obsessed co-panelist Judy Rebick that Mr. Hope and Change had set the wheels in motion for the elimination of public money for political campaigns.
In my post earlier this month, I suggested that such a system implemented in Canada would cause parties to actually appeal to the electorate and work for donations rather than put their hand out for a per-vote subsidy for being the least offensive option. The theory goes that if our politics inspires (Yes We Can) rather than demonizes (No They Can’t), people will show additional financial support that parties should depend on rather than be the public cash-receptacle of successful fear mongering campaigns that they are. How many Quebeckers these days actually support the Bloc Quebecois on its principles (they’ve all but abandoned sovereignty these days) rather than voting for that party to “block” the Conservatives or the Liberals?
I argued that we should end party welfare to motivate parties to appeal on their own issues.
In the past couple of hours, we’ve learned that in Jim Flaherty’s economic update tomorrow, the Conservative government will move to do just that in the name of showing that even politicians can tighten their own belts.
I may have been a bit of a tongue-in-cheek cynic by using the Obama magic to suggest removing critical funding from two parties of the left. The Bloc Quebecois, as mentioned, has depended on their status as those that could block Liberal corruption in 2006 and the Conservative Party’s… er conservatism in 2008. The Liberal Party on the other hand has depended upon what they are not. Specifically, they have warned Canadians of the Harper hidden agenda and what the Conservatives would do if they had a majority. In this spot and in relative comfort, the Liberals have relied on their per-vote subsidy. Under the new proposed financing cuts, the strength of the Liberal brand won’t matter as it is veritably without substance as conservatism is represented by the CPC and progressive politics is claimed by a resurgent NDP.
CTV reports that under Flaherty’s cuts, the parties could stand to lose up to:
* Conservatives: $10 million
* Liberals: $7.7 million
* NDP: $4.9 million
* Bloc Quebecois: $2.6 million
* Green Party: $1.8 million
Late this evening, I’ve learned that the per-vote subsidy stands to be reduced in full.
In this, the Conservatives aim to level a strategic blow to the Liberals as Conservative fundraising efforts — rooted in the Reform tradition of passing the hat in legion halls and church basements — has remained strong. Buoyed by detailed supporter databases, the party is set to compete on an advantageous — despite it’s now mutually diminished — footing with other parties. The Liberal Party still has not mastered grassroots fundraising and with an expensive year ahead with another leadership convention, Liberals will need to determine how to appeal (and fast) if they are to survive as a viable organization.