As the federal election campaign passes its halfway mark and enters the stretch run, it looks more likely that the Conservatives will win. What’s less clear, of course, it whether they will win a majority. And this is a crucial point, for without a majority we’ll very likely have a Liberal minority government— once we’ve gone through the formality of a Conservative throne speech and, perhaps, a budget.
Michael Ignatieff insists that his party will not form a coalition, but so what. If his party sees a coalition as the only means to power, they’ll join one—even if they have to dump Ignatieff as leader to do so. They will probably dump him anyway, but that’s another matter.
I can see no future whatsoever for a non-majority Conservative government. Any observer of this election must see that there are only two adversaries: the Tories and the opposition. The campaign has become an anybody-but-the-Conservatives contest. We saw that played out on the leaders’ debates this week: one-on-one segments between the opposition leaders were pretty tame stuff and quickly became bash-Harper routines with opposition leaders trying to outdo each other.
So election-41 will, very likely, produce a Conservative majority for the next four years or a Liberal minority with formal support from the NDP and the Bloc Québécois. NDP-Bloc support of the Liberals may not come in the form of a coalition with non-Grit membership in the Liberal cabinet, but the effect will be the same: Tories will form the official opposition. Personally, I believe the NDP—though not the Bloc—will officially be part of the government, with Jack Layton having a seat at the cabinet table.
The prospect of the NDP being part of the new government is driving a significant segment of NDP support in this campaign: voters from the left believe they can stop the Conservatives without having to vote for the Liberals.
If the Tories fail to gain a majority, we’ll be dialing the clock back to the 1970s with that era’s high deficits, high taxes, high inflation and rapidly expanding social programs.
Oh, the Grits like to tell voters they are the party that balanced the budget after several years of budget deficits under Tory rule. But that was a very different Liberal Party. Can any senior member of the current Liberals be considered as fiscally conservative as Paul Martin was?
When Paul Martin left the finance portfolio in 2002, so too did fiscal prudence. Following his departure, John Manley’s federal budget allocated billions of dollars in new spending on a broad front, putting a stake through the heart of the last vestiges of fiscal conservatism remaining in the Liberal Party.
An Ignatieff-Rae-Layton government will greatly expand social spending and pay for it with increased taxes and ongoing deficits:
- the Liberals-NDP will increase corporate income taxes—they have promised to do this;
- they will increase payroll taxes—the NDP is proposing this in their platform;
- they will increase GST to former levels—they all have said the reductions made by the Tories were a big mistake;
- they will raise new taxes through cap-and-trade/carbon tax schemes, increasing the prices of virtually every consumer product we buy—it’s in the Liberals’ current platform buried on about page 46; and
- they will give God knows what and how much to Quebec as the quid pro quo for the Bloc’s support.
But they will not balance the budget, because socialist elements within their ranks won’t stand for such a move. This influential force will point to the United States and Europe and tell us those countries run deficits so it’s okay for us to do so.
It’s happened before under the Liberals-NDP, it’ll happen again.