Political neophyte strikes again

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.

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6 Responses to Political neophyte strikes again

  1. mikel says:

    More worrying is that Harper has never had much love for the east. Not only that, but kiss those federal gun registry jobs in Miramichi goodbye. Not only that, but Harper really doesn’t have to worry about ‘losing’ NB-not with a split vote. We know he has no real interest in Point Lepreau, in fact you may see AECL get sold off, and nobody is going to buy it if they have an unforeseen debt hanging over their head. Before people blame people for shooting themselves in the foot though, its important to remind people that the tories only have 40% of the vote-I may need that sign after all. On facebook several young friends made the statement that “I don’t believe in voting because it only gives the appearance of participation” and a LOT of things along those lines, so again, you never know what the future MAY hold. As a country we’ve now gotten more youth hyped up and proved to them that voter participation essentially accomplishes worse than what you had. So lots of youth are tuning out, but as for the others, you never know.

  2. richard says:

    “It is reasonable to assume that Canada will continue to inch rightward – in its institutions and policies – that is to be expected.”

    Probably true, from a federal perspective at least. However, that rightward tilt is not supported by a majority of the electorate and so that rightward drift may in the end turn out to be very polarizing.

    “the electorate will rise up and throw out the Tories for a generation.”

    I am not sure that Harper believes that; I think he believes that he can pursue a strong rightward agenda and convince a large number of people to go along with it. We will see. His majority in Parliament has much to do with a faction of Liberal-leaning voters fearing the NDP more than Harper. A year or two will tell us if those Lib leaners will jump baack to the Libs or learn to love the NDP.

    I think the Liberals’ mistake was not to take the Conservatives two year attack on Ignatieff seriously. They did not fight back and thus let the caricature of Iggy take hold.

  3. mikel says:

    On the plus side, we may finally get an elected Senate. After over a hundred years, that will be quite the accomplishment, and I don’t think canadians realized just how ‘right’ their institutions have been for quite some time. It was under a liberal government that virtually ALL the head scientists who were responsible for protecting canadians from BGH in our milk were fired.
    The liberals have always been the ‘corporate’ party, thats why they’ve been able to stay Canada’s ‘natural governing party’. The conservatives were always against that, but by becoming more corporate than the liberals, its true that they may be able to replace them (liberals have ALWAYS been very conservative-people forget that things like gay marriage are a result of court decisions, not legislation).
    Much of the public talk about the parties have focused on the leaders, the NDP rise is almost exclusively attributed to Jack Layton, even though he’s been around for three election cycles basically saying the same thing.
    The tories only gained 5% more of the vote than last time, so I don’t think its a question of leadership. The liberals basically ran on the platform of “we won’t be quite as bad as the tories”, they almost never even mentioned their environmental plan, so its no surprise that people preferred the NDP. And again, I doubt it had to do with Jack Layton so much as the ‘desire for change’, which certainly wouldn’t come from the liberals.
    And the difference came from the 905 area, where apparantly federal ministers have been ‘campaigning’ since the last election. It’s very true that for new immigrants, their values are often ‘conservative’, and the desire for ‘political stability’ pushed the tories over. So this was very much a ‘tactical’ election.
    And no doubt there were many people who were just sick of politics plain and simple and didn’t want to hear about it for four years. But since the tories didn’t actually gain much in the popular vote, thats probably a rare view amongst all the other policies.
    As always, the most disheartening factor of the election is how fast the media forgets just how dysfunctional our electoral system is, which allows Harper to do like Alward, and go around saying how everything they do is supported by canadians.

  4. scott says:

    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.
    Don’t worry David, I don’t think too many of us saw that coming in Quebec. If they tell you they did, and there last name isn’t Bellavance, they’re fibbing.

  5. mikel says:

    Don’t like to nitpick, but actually almost EVERYBODY saw that coming in Quebec. All the media talked about was how popular Jack Layton and the NDP was in Quebec.
    And remember, its wasn’t that large a shift in votes-only in seats. It’s always interesting to see how media tries to keep focus off our electoral system. In 2008 the Bloc nationally got 9.9% of the votes. In this election they got 6% of the vote. So only 4% of canadians (granted, that would be more than 4% of Quebecers) changed their support away from the bloc, but that ‘decimates’ their seats.
    That’s ironic because in part it was the electoral system that resulted in their success, giving them proportionally MORE power than they deserved, but in the end it bites them on the butt. This actually happens to EVERY party at one time or another, its too bad they wouldn’t see this while in power.

  6. scott says:

    Don’t like to nitpick, but actually almost EVERYBODY saw that coming in Quebec. All the media talked about was how popular Jack Layton and the NDP was in Quebec.

    mikel gets the prize. caps to prove it. 😉

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