Thursday, May 01, 2008

OK, now this is just getting ridiculous....

The Tories are now threatening to make Bill C-10, the freakin' movie tax credit Bill, a matter of confidence!!! Now, leave aside the merits of the Bill (which proposes to deny tax credits to films that are "offensive" where the government gets to determine what constitutes "offensive") what really grinds my gears here is how obvious it's become that the Tories are using "confidence" motions as a sledge hammer.

Any time the Tories feel there's the smallest chance that a bill might not get passed (or in this case, not even that, just the chance that the Bill might be AMENDED has them foaming at the mouth) the Tories will proclaim the Bill to be a matter of confidence and dare the Liberals to do something.

And they won't.

Canadians elected a minority government so that the parties would be forced to compromise, and come up with better and more balanced legislation for all Canadians. Well, "screw that" say the Tories. We'll do what we want, and if you even think about amending the bills we propose we'll make you force an election over it.

And it's working.

At this point it occurs to me that the Liberals are keeping the Tories from being elected to a majority position in the House by simply GIVING THEM majority power in the House, without the need for anything so awkward as an election. The strategy, so far as I can tell, is to save the village by burning it down. We can't risk an election, because then maybe the Tories would win majority power, so we'll give the Tories majority power to prevent an election from happening.

So, this is me getting on the bandwagon with those who want to quit this inanity and just rip off the band-aid. Sure, maybe Harper and the Tories would win an ensuing election. I'd be mildly surprised, but not shocked. But SO WHAT??? At least then all the things they're doing would have some democratic legitimacy. At this point they have all the power, and none of the veneer of legitimacy. How is that BETTER than allowing the people of Canada to decide whether they WANT the Tories to have a majority or not??? Why is giving it to them by default better than letting the people decide???

Knock it off already.

This is just a farce.

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Anonymous said...

I realize that I risk a flood of invective but I do understand your frustration, it is the frustration of many progressives who vote NDP.
We have been saying that it is the NDP that have consistently stood up to the Cons outside AND inside the HOC. Principles mean little if they don't inform action and that is where things are at with the LPC.
Today the NDP released a response to the Census Report on the ever growing gap between the richest Canadians and the rest of us. The release goes after the Cons but it does (justifiably in my mind) also point out that this gap was also growing under LPC regimes. It is said because it is the truth.
In politics there must always be a certain balancing of principle and pragmatism but I have watched the LPC kick their progressive wing so often, shunting aside supposedly core principles.
I invite progressives not to buy the line of MSM and really look at the policies offered by the NDP and see how the NDP has been opposing the Conservative agenda.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

No invective here.

Now, as much as I'm tired of "we have to act this way to keep the Tories from going to the polls and winning a real majority" from the Liberals, I do still have some sympathy for the "Of course the NDP is opposing the Tories, they can do whatever they like! They live in a wonderful consequence-free world where they can say and do exactly what's on their mind and it'll never matter because they'll never form a government". So, on that I'm torn.

I certainly respect the NDP's principles, and their generally principled stances on issues. And, as for the "many progressives who vote NDP" I guess that would include me, as I've voted NDP in the last two federal elections (I also live in a wonderfully dreamy consequence-free world... my riding is SOLIDLY Liberal, so I can vote for whomever I like secure in the knowledge that I'll never accidentally help a Tory win!).

Still, as much as I admire the principles, I'm cognizant of reality. It's easy to hold a principled line when the consequences of holding that line are negligible. Moral certitude is less impressive in a consequence-free environment. That said, I do feel that Parliament has become such a farce that consequences be damned. Blow the thing up and let the chips fall where they may. At least if we end up with a Tory majority they'll have a legitimate mandate from the people.

Let's close our eyes, grit our teeth and rip the band-aid off. Even if we reopen the wound and bleed all over the place, at least we'll be able to see the wound. If it's bad, I trust the Canadian people will get to cleaning it up in short order. (Wow, I really rode that metaphor into the ground, didn't I!).


Anonymous said...

I am so frustrated at the consequence-free argument. Particularly here in Ontario. I realize that folks felt burned by Rae, I certainly did as a gay person but I honestly see that a significant part of the problem was Rae and his governing style and the style of many of those who immediately surrounded him. Now that Mr. Rae is at home with LPC (by his own account where he should always have been) how is it that federal NDP is tarred with his brush yet the media doesn't tar Mr. Rae.
At some point principled, progressive people will have to take a leap of faith and vote their hopes not their fears.
I say this to Ontarians in particular. The LPC when in power did next to nothing for much of Ontario and particularly Toronto and this province kept voting them in out of fear of a Reform/Conservative government. If the worst were to happen and we had an actual Conservative majority (as opposed to a de facto one) it would be bad but it would be fixable in the long run. We survived Harris and we can survive Harper.
What we can no longer accept (at least IMHO) is a political party that claims progressive values and rarely (even when in power with super majorities and running surpluses) acts on those values.
We can't forget that what provided the Harrisites with their argument for downloading and cutting was, in large part the cuts to transfer payments and federal downloading.
Change by its very nature implies a certain amount of risk - we cannot expect benefit without it.

Catelli said...

Well said LKO.

At least if we end up with a Tory majority they'll have a legitimate mandate from the people.

I couldn't agree more (as much as I am loathe to see it, but Anon is 100% correct, we would weather it.) The irony is the Liberals would be free to act like a proper opposition, IE It's easy to hold a principled line when the consequences of holding that line are negligible.

What the Liberal is completing ignoring is that you can lose an election with dignaity and still have the respect of the people. But playing turtle in parliament to avoid the consequences of your actions reeks of cowardice and politics of convenience. THAT cannot be respected.

Sir Francis said...

What we need is a Governor General with the guts to deny a request for dissolution when premised upon an arbitrarily designated "confidence" matter. If our system actually worked as it was designed to work, Harper wouldn't be able to pull this kind of blackmail.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Good point Sir Francis.

Ahhh for the days of Lord Byng!

John W said...

After this Government is long gone, there needs to be a study or committee or commission on this issue of confidence votes.

Previous PMs had the same power as Harper in declaring everything confidence, but they exercised it within some sort of parliamentary tradition that dictated restraint.

This PM has no respect for that as we know.

Confidence votes need to be strictly defined in law or the Constitution whatever it takes.

I don't think it's fair to put GG on the spot at this stage.

Anonymous said...

"Canadians elected a minority gov't so that parties would be forced to compromise".
I've read your stuff often and you know better. They didn't all get together to create this parliament and if they did, the minority would not have had a 4th party. The sitting gov't is resonsible to address its agenda the best way it can and Harper is simply using the tools at his disposal effectively.
Maybe the people of this country knew that when they voted. Compromise if necessary, but not necessarily compromise.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

"Compromise if necessary, but not necessarily compromise."

Cute. I'll compromise if you can tell me whether or not the gun I'm holding to your head is loaded.

Fair enough on the notion that we didn't consciously and collectively decide to elect a minority government. But we DID elect a minority government, all evidence to the contrary. Is it too much to ask that the governing party doesn't threaten to bring it crashing down every time Parliamentarians dare vote their consciences? Or even less, dare to even AMEND legislation proposed by the government?

So much for Harper's supposed trust in "ordinary members of parliament" and the importance of free votes.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Oh, and also "anonymous", I've read your stuff often too. And, frankly, you're a bit of a crackpot!


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