Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Message from Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada (for now)

My fellow Canadians,

These are tough economic times. We all know people who have recently lost their jobs (my former friend Garth Turner comes to mind). We have all lost money - admitedly these loses have been greater for those of you who may have listened to my advice that there were great "buying opportunities" in the stock market a month ago. Oops. But it is in difficult times such as these that we must come together as a nation (well, two nations).

Although we can all agree that the blame for this economic downturn lies elsewhere (I blame the Liberals), it is not the time to play the blame game. Instead, we must all make sacrifices. And, my friends, the one luxury we cannot afford during these troubled times are opposition parties. By simply eliminating opposition parties, we could save millions of dollars in MP salaries and expenses.

So I invite my cowardly opponents to put aside their partisanship and to support my noble proposal to eliminate public financing of political parties. In tough economic times like these (tough times, caused by 13 years of Liberal economic mismanagement), I can think of no better way to jump start the economy. After all, if I could think of a better way to jump start the economy, there would have been a stimulus package in my F.U.

So let us join together and do away with opposition parties. Together, we can put the interests of Canada first, and weather this difficult economic storm (which I must re-emphasize, I had nothing to do with).


The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

PS - Stephane Dion is not a leader

hat tip to CS for the hilarious facebook status update that inspired this


  • I missed that facebook status update but this was pretty inspired satire!

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 5:36 p.m.  

  • Dear Stephen,

    I sympathize with your thoughts and feelings. Canadians face difficult economic challenges. Your opponents are making life difficult for you in Ottawa. I just wish to think of you and give my full support to "Canada's New Government." I urge all Canadians to unite behind "Canada's New Government" and work with the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc in making Canada a great country again.

    Skinny Dipper

    By Blogger Skinny Dipper, at 5:42 p.m.  

  • Well done

    By Blogger Mark, at 5:51 p.m.  

  • Stephen Harper is telling Canadians to tell our MPs our feelings on a coalition. I'll be happy to let my Conservative MP know exactly how excited I am to have a respectable Liberal-NDP coalition ruling Canada before Christmas.

    By Blogger Scott, at 5:58 p.m.  

  • Does anyone else think that Harper backing down on the subsidy is kind of playing into the opposition's hands, since they've been saying all along that this isn't about the subsidy?

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 5:58 p.m.  

  • Harper....what a pussy

    By Blogger Barb Miller, at 6:06 p.m.  

  • The Conservative Caucus has to dump Harper and Flaherty and go to Parliament with a new PM and a new finance minister.

    Deliver up Harper's and Flaherty's heads on a platter for the opposition, and ask for the confidence of Parliament.

    Now which Conservative MP has the cajones to stand up in caucus and demand that Harper and Flaherty fall on their swords.

    That is my proposal for the best solution to this mess.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 6:25 p.m.  

  • He's not playing into our hands... He knows that he can re-intro it later, and then FORCE us to vote on it alone. His mistake was to include it with the update. He's trying to correct it.

    This is WHY we need to force him out now, then spend 1 to 2 years fundraising for a Liberal Party in power (lot easier to raise funds when you're in power, and in the public eye constantly).

    Speaking of undemocratic, Harper wants to kill opposition. How "undemocratic" is that? I sense another person with a 6 letter last name starting with "H" coming on... Harper is the one trying to make Canada a totalitarian dictatorship. Who else runs a country in minority (when he does not have the support of 2/3s of it) like a majority? Who else tries to put in place measures which would effectively end opposition?

    Are Conservative members (especially the trolls on this blog - but others too) really so stupid that they don't understand that even their great heroes in the USA have a fully funded primary system, which is paid for by tax-payers? That's right... All the battles you watched between Clinton and Obama, and the Repugs were tax-payer paid. And they will continue to be.

    By Blogger WesternGrit, at 6:29 p.m.  

  • Happy American Thanksgiving, Stephen. Have you seen Sarah Palin recently? Is she giving interviews? Pardonnez-moi!

    By Blogger Skinny Dipper, at 6:30 p.m.  

  • If you're going to hat tip, can you at least provide a link and a real name? How the fuck are we supposed to know what "hat tip to CS" means? Who the fuck is CS?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:41 p.m.  

  • I've thought a lot about this, and read a great many opinions from pundits and bloggers and commenters.

    In theory, I'm fine with axing the $1.95 subsidy (although the donor tax rebate/credit comes out of the same trough and the CPC isn't going after it) but it's clear that Harper has moved here only for partisan, and not national, benefit. That's wrong - just as wrong in intention as the Liberals putting the LPC before Canada in Adscam. I'm content with Harper's performance as PM but his action here is not PM-worthy, and I guess I won't cry if he ends up finding a new job over it.

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 8:03 p.m.  

  • Were WesternGrit's comments satirical too?

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 8:05 p.m.  

  • sense another person with a 6 letter last name starting with "H" coming on

    Yes, well said! You forgot to mention that they both end in "ER", as well! The similarities are truly, truly frightening.

    Thank you, WesternGrit, for speaking truth to power. Dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it!!!

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 8:12 p.m.  

  • Harper has completely snookered the opposition yet again.

    He gets all three opposition parties to claim an entitlement to public financing due to an inability to get people to donate to them. And as an added bonus the Libs and Dippers cloak it in the cover of a missing stimulus package.

    Now when the real stimulus package appears after Obama signals his intentions the opposition can no longer complain about a small deficit as they have gone on record as demanding stimulus at any cost.

    Once again the ignorant left is caught up in its own stupidity.

    As a side note I will point out that when Liberals are successful they are actually centre right and as long as this all progressives are the same meme continues you will continue to languish as the Toronto party.

    The John Manley, Brian Tobin, Frank McKenna wing of the party is puking out back while the Dion and Kennedy wings prance about with Martha Hall Nobody and that idiot Marlene Jennings spouting the nonsensical crap that defines them as social engineering retards.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:04 p.m.  

  • White man speaks with forked tonque again!

    Harper and associates are just like Bush and his administration. Mess up again and again.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 10:18 p.m.  

  • Asian man once again confuse himself with Bush=Harper comparison.

    Harper closer to beloved Obama on all issues than Bushymchitler.

    Jim Tan need new brain, preferably one that work.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:18 a.m.  

  • It would be a big mistake for the Liberals to bring down Harper on the economic update. Jack Mintz "defends the Harper approach" to stimulus, according to today's Globe and Mail.

    You do NOT want to be on the opposite side of Mintz on fiscal policy. Mintz has a great deal of respect amongst professional economists.

    If Harper goes down here it will be because he refused to preside over a spending spree. That's a sure ticket to handing Harper the fiscal responsibility stripes that the electorate used to divide between the Tories and Liberals more or less equally.

    By Blogger Brian Dell, at 2:28 a.m.  

  • You mean the professional economists that spent 20-odd years promoting a regulation-light philosophy that is creashing down around all of our ears?

    Yeah, I do NOT want to be on the opposite side of those clever, insightful people.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:00 a.m.  

  • Ahh jimtan so very insightful, with many open-minded and anti-racist opinions to share with crowd. Thankee so much jimtan, your asian skin ensures you be racist with no consequences, how very - how you say? - endearing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:01 a.m.  

  • I sense another person with a 6 letter last name starting with "H" coming on...

    Hanson? Heller?

    Help me out.

    Great post by the way CG.

    By Blogger McLea, at 9:23 a.m.  

  • Anybody else counting the talking points from "Anonymous" up there? "Harper is brilliant", "the left is stupid", "the opposition only cares about the subsidy", "Canada is a center-right country" (compared to what, Sweden), "Toronto Party"...

    ...all he needs is reference to a "coup" and he's hit them all!

    (As Atrios says, "smarter trolls, plz")

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 12:42 p.m.  

  • True, being on the wrong side of Mintz is never a good idea.

    Which is why the carbon tax idea went over so well.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:02 p.m.  

  • I'm sort of surprised Demosthenes doesn't see this anonymous poster as a more worthy adversary, totally suited to D's own brand of empty hatred.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 1:27 p.m.  

  • "Harper closer to beloved Obama on all issues than Bushymchitler."

    Except for the important issue of competence. It is sooo relevant!

    "That said, the pressure is now overwhelmingly on Harper. Randall Denley of the right-leaning Ottawa Citizen said the prime minister had tried "one of the dumbest stunts in the history of Canadian politics".

    He wrote on Sunday: "He has blown his credibility ... maybe the Liberals aren't the only party that should be looking for a new leader."

    Bring it on!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:39 p.m.  

  • "I'm sort of surprised Demosthenes doesn't see this anonymous poster as a more worthy adversary"

    Bo Green has got to be kidding!!!!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:40 p.m.  

  • Speaking of messages from Tories:

    Conservatives use coalition talk to appeal for donations

    Fergus? Ferguson? Chiasson? Smith?

    Anyone home up there?

    Knock, knock?




    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:50 p.m.  

  • Based on the budget announcement, I think they're going to prorogue Parliament and go straight to the budget.

    That would save them for now and give them a better chance, but they'd be absolutely savaged in the press, and the facts that are now propelling the opposition parties aren't likely to change (Harper wants to destroy them).

    Maybe Harper would argue then that the longer stretch of power gives him more right to a new election, but the opposition would (rightly) argue that that's just because he denied them a vote.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 2:06 p.m.  

  • "the one luxury we cannot afford during these troubled times are opposition parties"


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:42 p.m.  

  • If Harper prorogues, hopefully the Conservative figure out they better come to Parliament with Prime Minister Jim Prentice in January, and NOT Prime Minister Harper.

    The alternative to Harper should NOT be an opposition minority, it should be a Conservative minority led by somebody else.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 2:57 p.m.  

  • "the one luxury we cannot afford during these troubled times are opposition parties"

    I know that was intended as satire, but it is, in fact, true. The Bloc (and Green party) by forcing perpetual minority governments. Axing the subsidy is in the long-term interest of the NDP because it kills the Bloc, and creates their opening in Quebec (or perhaps left-of-centre Quebec will go home to the Liberals - surely the last election demonstrates that few will go to Harper).

    Our options are - a government once reliant on bloody-minded partisanship and wedge politics that has lost its credibility (because it just lost this game of chicken); an alliance between a party led by a man with an ~15% approval rating (or a man not even Liberals elected*), a man who wants to destroy the country and a man I wouldn't trust with my lunch money; and an election 1.5 months after the last one.

    Now, to me the first option is clearly the best, to others the second. Perhaps we might take off our partisan blinders (and I am guilty of wearing them myself) for a moment and ask why we are debating between driving off a cliff and jumping off a building in the first place?

    Because Canada, like Italy, has become (since the unification of the right) a country with a natural minority government. Unlike Italy, or other European democracies, however, we do not have a history of coalitions, and our electoral institutions do not make for lasting ones.

    Canada desperately needs one of the few following structural changes to save our politics.

    1. A merger between some combination of the Liberals, NDP and Greens to create a viable left of center party able to win majority governments (replaced by Conservative majorities when they do badly).

    2. Election finance reform that will eventually starve off the Bloc Quebecois. Want something mutually agreeable? Raise the caps on election spending, and the caps on individual donations. Suddenly the Liberals get competitive again, but the Tories and NDP aren't much worse off, while the Bloc is.

    3. Electoral reform. A PR system would cement minority governments, but make them more workable. However, it is unclear that PR would ever get through since it would harm whichever party has the most seats and the Bloc. Australian-style electoral reform is a much more viable option, because at least some Tories could support it, as could Liberals and Dippers.

    4. The breakup of the Conservative party. Obviously this is the aim of the present coalition (Scott Reid's op-ed didn't have a lot about fiscal stimulus to it) - destroy Harper, and with him, his coalition (Harper is not necessarily the most electable Conservative, but he is perhaps the most electable Conservative also able to hold together the party). Hope that in the vacuum he leaves behind the internecine warfare splits the Tories into as many as four tribes - of Manning, Dumont, Clark and Harris. Of course, much as Harper underestimated the ability of the left to unify against him, those that think their power-play sheer genius underestimate the ability of the right to unify against what they will see as an unforgiveable evil.

    If you think replacing one set of bloody-minded partisans with a ramshackle coalition of bloodier-minded partisans united only by hatred of the Conservatives is in the long term interest of this country or even the members of that alliance whose names are not Dion** (especially when they get to take the blame for the upcoming recession) you are sorely mistaken.
    The system is broken, lets fix it.***

    *Yes, technically 1/308 voters vote for the PM, but surely party leaders factor into how people vote across the country.

    **In all the vitriol about Harper, you have in Dion a truly small man of confederation, who herded his party into this for a shot at a crown virtually no Canadians think he should wear (whether he or Ignatieff gets it, for Liberal supporters of Bob Rae or Dominic Leblanc this is an utter sham).

    ***It will never happen, but I have fantasies of a grand coalition between the Liberals and Conservatives (maybe the NDP) coming together and reforming the structural sources of this mess.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 3:18 p.m.  

  • Prediction: Jason Cherniak will start blogging again, especially if a coalition comes into power.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 3:52 p.m.  

  • Hosertohoosier:

    Agreed, agreed, agreed, and agreed.

    Except for the part where you once again try to let Harper off the hook in the name of "structural sources." I think they certainly amplify the effects of partisanship like this, but they certainly don't necessitate it. If they did, then I think it would follow that engaging in such tactics would produce favourable electoral results, which hasn't been the case.

    And the part where you accuse Dion of orchestrating this for a shot at the PM's chair. I simply don't believe that; the NDP seems to be pushing this coalition idea harder than anyone, and Dion has indicated willingness to step out of the leader's chair if circumstances demand it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:02 p.m.  

  • Ok usurpers and plotters, time to put some meat on the bones of this coalition.

    Who is the PM?
    Who is the deputy PM?
    Who is finance minister?
    Who is foreign affairs minister?

    We need details about what the immediate economic plan is. If that is the driving reason and not naked ambition lets see it now.

    73% of canadians voted against the idea of a Liberal government.

    80% voted against the idea of Jack Layton and his merry band of socialists in power.

    Nobody outside of Quebec was given the chance to vote Gilles Duceppe and his band of traitors into government.

    If you bring down the government you will be morally obligated to answer all of these questions and allow the electorate to pass judgement on your plan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:23 p.m.  

  • jk,

    I probably did get carried away by my own partisan rants (the coalition angers me, not because it is illegitimate - it isn't; probably not entirely because I think it will govern poorly - though it probably will; but primarily because my guys are losing, a symptom of these partisan times).

    I think I would separate the recipe for electoral success and success as a government. The public wants consensual broad-based government, but they also want a clear consistent agenda.

    Martin was probably not bloody-minded enough (though he did prorogue parliament, bribe Belinda Stronach and run with well-poisoning negative ads). He didn't deliver a clear agenda and became Mr. Dithers.

    Harper may be too partisan - he had a clear and focused agenda, and largely got it through. In doing so, however, he unified his opponents by poisoning the poison well. Nonetheless, he was rewarded for delivering - not with a majority, but with solid gains.

    If Dion (or worse, Ignatieff) takes power through a coalition - it will be yet another legal, but polarizing move. For Conservatives, it will be the hanging of Louis Riel. Yet, from a Liberal standpoint, I wouldn't blame the Liberals for taking that route - why lose when you can win?

    The coalition will fail if it is too conciliatory - trying to appease unions, Quebec and the Liberal base in the midst of a recession (there is a reason no party has ever won the 57% of the vote the Bloc, Libs and NDP represent - it is not a sustainable coalition). It can succeed only by daring the Bloc or Tories to vote it down, a la Harper.

    Nixon created a world where Nixons could thrive. Chretien (through fundraising reforms) and Harper (by uniting the right) have created a world where only Chretiens* and Harpers can survive.

    *Chretien was, I think, pretty clearly a balls-to-the-wall asshole who would do what it took to win. However, with a divided right he didn't have to do that much. Ultimately the much nicer Martin had to play the bigger asshole, and for a smaller prize when faced with different times.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 4:36 p.m.  

  • Anonymous,

    1. This is a perfectly legitimate tactic in a parliamentary democracy. In countries with PR systems (the majority of democracies), post-election backroom negotiations are the norm. As much as I think this coalition is not in the national interest (or the interest of my preferred party), it is legitimate and legal - and frankly the route Michelle Jean should take (there is an Ontario precedent from 1985).

    2. If you assign second-choice preferences, while it is not absolutely clear who wins, a strong case can be made that a coalition like this is the choice of about half of Canadians (or is preferable to the current government).

    3. Conservatives had no problem with working with the Bloc when it was in their interest (there is a Tory budget the Bloc supported). Moreover, the Bloc will not be a formal part of the coalition.

    I think the route Harper is taking is the wrong one. The coalition is a reality, and the opposition has cast its die. If the Tories want to defeat it they should:

    a. Let the ramshackle alliance screw the economy. They can't appease Quebec, unions and Ontario soccer moms at the same time.
    b. Drive wedges into the alliance by talking about federal-provincial issues and Afghanistan.
    c. Water down the fiscal update enough so that the opposition looks power-hungry (deflate the opposition case that "we had no option to do it because the government was making ideological cuts").
    d. Think of a more long-term message, aimed at associating the Liberal brand with NDP incompetence and Bloc treachery.

    The "OMG they are destroying democracy" tack is over-the-top hysterics which will not work (especially if you look at the media reaction, which is critical in a situation like this).

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 4:46 p.m.  

  • hoosier,

    I agree that the tactic is legitimate in the situations you describe but we dont have PR, there is no second choice option on the ballot and the country has no experience with coalition left wing governments and the damage they can do.

    Im afraid of the foreign reaction to a coup but im also confident that Dion, Layton et al would run this country into the ditch in no time and result in a Harper majority.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:19 p.m.  

  • In 1985 even Frank MILLER, the premier getting screwed by the Rae-Peterson coalition, agreed in his resignation letter that the coalition was legitimate and preferable to dissolution.

    If you lose a VONC (and that is going to happen) you have two options: election or coalition.

    (one third option I have seen in Weimar Germany - you know we are in trouble when we need to look to Weimar Germany for examples - is where a different conservative leader more amenable to the opposition emerges, able to assemble a kinder gentler coalition.* That is very unlikely to happen.)

    *Actually the specific example I am thinking of is Von Papen, who was hardly kinder or gentler than his predecessor, given that his credibility as chancellor came from the fact that he could get the Nazis to back him (he wasn't a Nazi himself).

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 5:38 p.m.  



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:48 p.m.  

  • Jim Tan: stop pissing in the face of freedom you racist asshole.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:45 a.m.  

  • There's a movement to radically change California government, by getting rid of career politicians and chopping their salaries in half. A group known as Citizens for California Reform wants to make the California legislature a part time time job, just like it was until 1966.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:10 a.m.  

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