Once again, I have revealed my lack of understanding of Canadian politics. I don’t think I have accurately predicted an election outcome in a decade. In my last post I was rambling on about permanent coalitions and regional parties and now it looks like we could be back into a cycle of majority governments.
I received an email this morning from a colleague worried that this Tory majority would lead to deep cuts to federal economic development spending – possibly an elimination of ACOA altogether.
I think that is always a possibility as Harper has never been a fan of regional development but it is highly unlikely. First, ACOA has become less of a focused economic development agency and more of the regional delivery arm of federal programs. It now offers federal R&D programs, municipal infrastructure funding and other things well beyond traditional economic development. Under Harper, I could see ACOA take on more of that regional delivery of federal programs mandate.
I think we need to view this as an opportunity. Under a minority parliament the focus is on keeping the government from falling each budget cycle. Now, Harper and the Tories can focus on longer term strategy and maybe a redefinition of the role of the feds in regional economic development could be part of that strategy. The feds have played a critical role in the development of a number of regional clusters across Canada – oil & gas in Alberta, life sciences in Saskatchewan and the Montreal area, offshore oil in NL, etc. Maybe if NB gets focused – the feds will come along side as they did in these other jurisdictions.
Here I go again dipping my toes in the murky water of politics – I never the ‘scary’ moniker worked on Harper (fascist going to enforce a puritanical, brutish style of Conservativism) – or on Layton (hard socialist going to bankrupt the country). I am not sure that most people view the world so black and white. Most people view politics through their own experiences. If Harper slashes makes massive changes – the electorate will rise up and throw out the Tories for a generation.
It is reasonable to assume that Canada will continue to inch rightward – in its institutions and policies – that is to be expected. We have elected Tory governments now for at least nine straight years (barring any strange event over the next four). But any change will be incremental.
Last point, I kind of liked Iggy. Originally I liked the idea of the philosopher-king – the leading academic taking on big public policy issues. I guess that puts me at odds with 81.1 percent of Canadians. I have to say, however; that his time in office and as leader didn’t impress as much as the idea – although it didn’t seem like he made a lot of missteps – he just didn’t connect.