Friday, September 12, 2014
Stephen Harper and the Return of Parliament
After a long summer break Parliament returns on Monday, and all the political parties are revving up their engines.
A splashy, campaign-style launch for the government's fall agenda, a surprise tax cut for small business owners, a brand new NDP battle cry and a prime-time speech from Justin Trudeau: welcome to the 2015 election season.
With Parliament poised to resume on Monday, all three main political parties are clearly revving their political engines on the road to the next vote, currently scheduled to take place some 12 months from now.
For it will mark the official beginning of the next election campaign and Stephen Harper couldn't make that clearer by turning the occasion into a party.
Typically, the Tories are content to hold a modest news conference or have Stephen Harper address caucus members on Parliament Hill. This time, they've upped the ante, inviting supporters to an Ottawa convention centre Monday where the prime minister will lay out his fall agenda.
For he is pulling out all the stops. He has started to implement his plan to try to buy the support of some Canadians.
The invite was followed by what's likely to be the first in a string of tax cuts tossed out by the Tories as pre-election gifts on the road to the ballot box next year. The cuts to employment insurance premiums for small business announced Thursday are the kind of targeted tax breaks the Tories adore, allowing them to woo boutique constituencies without breaking the bank.
He is pushing ahead with his plan to nail down the ethnic vote.
He is preparing to rush his flawed crime bills through the House. While his stooge Tony Clement sets the stage for a massive clash with the public service unions.
The Conservative government proposes to slash public servants’ paid sick leave to five days a year and introduce an unpaid seven-day waiting period before they qualify for new short-term disability benefits.
So I'm glad the Liberals and the NDP are mobilizing to meet the challenge, because it's clear to me that we are heading for an early election.
And that the result will depend on whether they are able to dismantle the latest Con slogan "We're Better Off With Harper."
Which as Andrew Coyne suggests, will probably come down to whether Canadians believe that Harper is doing a good job of managing the economy.
The evidence is that it is the short-term state of the economy, the thing over which governments have the least control, that decides elections. Whatever personal contributions Pierre Trudeau or Brian Mulroney might have made to the odium in which they were held by the time each left office, it was the recessions that beset the country in their final years that dictated their departures — and doomed their successors.
And will be harder to disabuse when the Cons are preparing to bribe the population.
But not impossible...
The problem this presents for the government is twofold. One, not only is the economy growing rather more slowly than has been the norm historically — employment, in particular, has all but stalled — but this slow growth is likely to continue: in part owing to the lingering aftershocks of the financial crisis, in part to the population aging, as more people leave the labour force than enter it.
Not when the economy is growing so slowly. Not when their job creation programs are failing so badly. Not when this country is still flooded with foreign workers. Not when the dollar is tanking. And not when Canada's economic inequality problem is growing worse by the minute.
Wealth in Canada is concentrated heavily in the top 10% -- with the bottom 30% of Canadians accounting for less than 1% of all wealth and the bottom half accounting for less than 6%, a new study has found.
But of course the challenge will be communicating all of this in a simple but powerful message. One that makes it clear that we are NOT better off with Harper, as I started off doing last night with this video...
For if the opposition parties can't do that, as well as motivate Canadians with a brighter more exciting vision of the future, Harper could still get away with it.
And the good news. That shouldn't be too hard. Not with everything that monster and his ghastly regime have done to this country.
As for Harper's big Parliament returns party, well I think we can ruin that too eh?
By making sure that nobody misses the start of the Mike Duffy trial which also begins on Monday.
And by humming along with Duffy in this old blast from the past...
Because that is of course yet another reason to get rid of the Con regime.
Yup. The Battle for Canada begins on Monday.
And we must be smarter and more aggressive than ever before. And we will be.
For failure is not an option...
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