Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sound And Fury Signifying Nothing

The Liberals aren't used to opposition, and they're certainly not used to the idea of a speech from the throne that actually sticks to the government platform instead of promising everything under the sun:

The opposition parties hunted for clear political targets in the minority Conservative government's Throne Speech yesterday, but had to admit that Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave them little to shoot at.

"The devil is in the details and there aren't any details here," a frustrated Liberal Leader Bill Graham said yesterday after listening to one of the sparsest Throne Speeches in living memory.

Instead of attacking the government's legislative program, the opposition parties and interest groups lamented what wasn't there -- no specific plans to clean up the environment, improve living conditions for aboriginal people, meet foreign aid commitments, or rebuild urban infrastructure.

Mr. Graham said the Conservatives are blowing a unique opportunity to implement a comprehensive national child-care program. The federal treasury easily could afford such a new social program, he said.

Paradoxically, the more that goes into a speech from the throne, the less accountable a government is for any of it, especially a minority government. A promise-laden speech makes it that much easier for a minority government to bargain away large parts of its legislative agenda in exchange for getting it passed.

A narrowly-focussed speech like this gives the Conservative little room to trade off anything--a move that would be risky if the opposition were not so deeply divided and unwilling to force an election.

From early indications, it looks like the Bloc Quebecois will vote for the speech, guaranteeing its passage and the survival of the government, and maybe the NDP as well will join in.

Leaving the Liberals to make all sorts of unbelievable threats to bring down the government and force a second election in six months with no leader, no money, and no hope of winning.

No need to clear the calendars for an election this year.

Source: Globe and Mail


CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

'Tis a throne speech Brian Mulroney would be proud of ....

Wait a bit, isn't he a key advisor to Harper?

And didn't he just about break up the country over his skewed deals with the provinces, trying to reduce the federal power in Canada?

Yup – Bustup Brian rides again.

All those who believe in a strong federal government will now face a fight with Harper trying in surreptitious ways to introduce his stealth agenda of a massive shift of financial and other powers from Canada to the provincial premiers.

This fight is going to be intense. Let's hope there are leaders in Quebec, the NDP and LPC who will stand up for Canada.

Anonymous said...

CuriosityKilledTheCat, just so you know, the Provinces are part of Canada as well. I'm sure that you wouldn't complain if Toronto got more power though, would you?

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Yes, I would. I am a firm believer in the need for a strong federal government in Canada, otherwise the centrifugal forces of provincial powers will lead to such a patchwork of laws and rights and duties, that essential parts of the Canadian social fabric will be harmed.

I do not trust any politician totally; I rely on the Charter for protection of essential things. But to maintain some semblance of a Canadian nation, we need a central government with funding and powers, able to help preserve the best parts through its involvement.

Harper does not share these views – his past speeches are very clear on that. He is closer to the US Republican view of gutting the central government and giving provinces more power.

Unlike Harper and his New Tories, I – and the majority of Canadians – believe that Canada is not just a collection of communities, but that it is greater than the sum of its parts. And this is because we have a strong federation...