Jack and Gilles went up the hill
View from the Strip
By Casey Lessard
What a rollercoaster ride of emotions Canadians have been on this month. The scene in Ottawa has polarized the nation, with the Governor-General putting the brakes on a government takeover bid by a Liberal-NDP coalition (let’s be honest, the Bloc is in there, too, even if no one will admit it; however, I think they have less power than the Conservatives want us to believe).
Post-crisis polls say Stephen Harper has more support than he did in October. Personally, the prospect of Stephen Harper winning a majority scares the heck out of me; right now, it’s a real possibility.
Conservative supporters paint the Prime Minister as the victim in this battle, but his economic statement was tailor made to start a fight: he planned to drop the $1.95 voter subsidy, attack labour unions, and eliminate gender pay equity. Coming into a confidence vote armed with an economic statement no one in opposition could support only weeks after the election, Harper seemed genuinely surprised that anyone would stand up to him, especially Stéphane Dion, whose Liberals let him pick on them for the past two years.
I can’t understand when people call the coalition a team of schoolyard bullies. It’s more realistic to call them the victims, and Harper the bully who has been pushing them around for too long. Nothing has changed because he ran to the teacher, who tells them all to cool it.
It seems as if the coalition is doomed, but we’ll see if that’s true. Harper’s support has grown only because Dion’s has dropped (dramatically), and with him out of the way, it will be new ball game come January. Time will tell whether the coalition will emerge stronger or weaker after the prorogation period ends six weeks from now.
More importantly, time will tell whether Canadians will realize that more of us voted for a party other than the Conservatives, which means that if they work together they have the right to run the government. That’s how it works here.
At least this crisis has helped make one thing happen: Canadians are certainly more engaged in politics than they were a month ago. Perhaps next time there is an election, more of us will stand up and be counted. We got ourselves into this mess, after all.