I get it: the federal Liberals, New Democrats and the Bloc Québécois have lost confidence in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. So what? The PM has never had the confidence of these opposition parties, so what’s the big deal? Within six weeks of the Tories winning the 2008 general election, the opposition parties formed a coalition with the intention of voting non-confidence in the government. So nothing much has changed.
I believe it is time for an election so the kids in Ottawa can blow off some steam. The political atmosphere in the capital has become so toxic, some sort of relief valve is desperately need; perhaps a general election will provide that relief. At least we ordinary Canadians will not have to watch the antics of these career pols as they act up during Question Period in a rather pathetic effort to seem relevant to their constituents. This is especially true of members of the Bloc and the NDP who have no chance whatsoever—unless through a coalition—of having a chance to actually govern the country. At least the Grits are just doing what the official opposition generally does.
There is, however, a lot at stake here. The Conservatives could, for instance, win a majority thereby ending the circus and farce the Parliamentary committees have become and allowing for meaningful long-term management of the affairs of state.
On the other hand, the Grits could form the next government, promoting the ineffective Michael Ignatieff to the job of prime minister of a country for which he really has little or no “feel.” A few years ago Ignatieff lived abroad and the only public sentiments I heard him express about Canada were rather derogatory. Canada has changed a lot in the 30-odd years of his adult life that he spent outside the country, and Ignatieff is still struggling to catch up.
Look, there is nothing wrong with any Canadian deciding his or her best interests lay in another country. What’s wrong is for that Canadian to return after spending almost all of their adult life abroad and expecting ordinary Canadians to accept them as our prime minister. Should Ignatieff lose the leadership of the Liberal party, he’ll leave Canada within three or four years—I’d bet on that, but I don’t like to bet sure things.
If the Grits win, we return to the bad old days of major political scandals (Adscam, Shawinigate, HRDC Job Training Grants Scandal, etc.), spending fiascos (cancellation of military helicopter contract, gun registry, HRDC scandal, etc.) and the sort of military cutbacks we’re still struggling to repair.
As to ridding ourselves of the federal deficit, we can forget that. These are the Grits of Bob Rae, not of Paul Martin. There is nothing left in the Liberal party that vaguely resembles the deficit-slaying team led by Paul Martin. Martin was a fiscal conservative, something of which the current Liberals are quite devoid. A Liberal win virtually ensures major social program spending and federal deficits well into the future.
If the Grits lose this election, that party loses Ignatieff as leader, another pretty safe bet. And the same fate could await the PM if his party comes up short in May.
After condemning the PM and his government non-stop since the last election and, at the same time, making sure that Conservative government stayed in office, Ignatieff seems ready finally to pull the plug on the Tories this Friday. Should Ignatieff do as expected, we’re in for the nastiest election Canadians have seen in a long time.