Thursday, November 27, 2008

Yo, Harper: Time for some "incremental cost" analysis.

Hey, here’s brilliant idea to rescue our economy. Let’s save $30 million in order to render a $300 million exercise completely worthless and one sided.

Without the $30 million of political party funding, these $300 million elections become a total waste of time? Harper wants to save $30 million to render a $300 million exercise basically worthless. That’s like buying a Ferrari and not being willing to pay for its license plate. All dressed up and no where to go. The fate of Canadian democracy under Stephen Harper, the evil genius:

Kelly McParland: Stephen Harper, evil genius

November 27, 2008,
by Kelly McParland
National Post

Stephen Harper's decision to end public financing for political parties is a daring gambit that could pay off in several ways, but could also land him on the ash heap, out of office just months after winning his way back in. It is cynical, clever, calculating and diabolical. It's also dirty pool, and its success depends a great deal on his reading of the attitude of the electorate.

If it goes through, it would thoroughly hobble the opposition. You can tell that just by the speed and shrillness of their protests. The Liberals, as John Ivison reports, are deep in dept, barely able to keep up the payments on the loan they took out to fight the last election, and dependent on the $1.95-per-vote subsidy to do so. More than that, they have just launched a leadership contest which requires the participants to raise money from donors who have already given several times in recent years: to Paul Martin for the 2006 campaign, to candidates in the last leadership contest, and again for the most recent election. Many have to be tapped out, and are being approached at a time when even the wealthiest are counting their quarters in anticipation of dire times ahead. Removing the subsidy might allow the party to go back to the corporate donors that supported it through so many mandates, but that would take time, the apparatus is presumably rusty, the Liberals are an opposition party rather than a government (and thus unable to return any favours) and, again, corporate accounts aren't exactly flush right now.

The NDP, oddly enough, might survive relatively unscathed, having matched the Tories in developing a n effective grassroots fundraising apparatus, but the Greens and the Bloc would be deep in the doo-doo.

You can almost see the satisfied smirk creeping across the PM's thin lips at that prospect. Elizabeth May gave him no end of annoyance in the last election, sitting directly beside him at the debates while delivering insults. A party that's never elected a single member dictating to the Tory leader where he went wrong. Let's see how insulting she is when she can barely afford train fare to Ottawa. And the Bloc -- that might be the sweetest blow of all. The Bloc depends on public financing for almost 80% of its income. Here's a party that has spent 20 years in Ottawa lecturing Canadians on how unworthy they are to host a province as incomparable as Quebec, and which survives only thanks to the income from taxes paid by those same unfathomably tolerant Canadians. Without that lifeline the Bloc would face immense problems mounting an effective campaign, and without an effective Bloc campaign Quebec would once again be open to the blandishments of the federalists, the best-equipped of which to blandish are the Conservatives. Only a late surge by the Bloc kept Harper from a majority last time out; siphon off their bank accounts and who knows what glories could be achieved.

The trick will be in getting the Tory measure through the House. And that's where the calculating mind of S. Harper really comes to the fore. If the government makes approval a matter of confidence the opposition will have to bring it down to block the measure. That would put extreme financial pressure on all parties, but the Liberals in particular are in no shape to contest another war. Securing another $20 million loan could be nigh-on impossible: banks won't lend even for worthy enterprises these days; a threadbare political party down on its luck and already deep in hock is hardly an attractive risk. There's also the small matter of the party being without a leader. The two most effective campaigners are locked in a dual for the top job, leaving Stephane Dion, an interim leader unloved by Canadians, and just weeks from having led the party to a new low at the polls, to try and mount a campaign.

And on what issue? The opposition's outrage that the Tories have turned off their welfare tap? Harper can point out that his own party will take the biggest hit, losing upwards of $10 million in funding. He can also note the NDP's ability to raise money from donors, and ask why Liberals can't do the same. But more critical is the question of how much voters are likely to care. Party funding is hardly a galvanizing concern. There have been two general elections and a leadership vote in three years, and it's going to take a good excuse to send Canadians back for a third kick at the can. Many of them will be spending the holidays wondering how much longer they'll be employed, and how to pay the bills should the axe fall. Are they likely to take kindly to the sight of Stephane Dion, reborn, on their TV tubes complaining that Stephen Harper is refusing to use their money to pay for his party's bills?

So if the measure goes through, Harper hobbles the Liberals, damages Elizabeth May and forces the Bloc to find some other sugar daddy to finance its separatist fantasies. Comes the next election and the Tories are all but certain to be head and shoulders over every other party in their ability to wage a campaign.

If the government is defeated, he's back on the campaign trail against a broke, leaderless and dispirited Liberal party, able to blame them for forcing yet another needless election and to appeal for the extra few seats that will prevent it happening again.

He really is a devil, this Harper. Crafty. Very crafty.

National Post

1 comment:

Dr Mike said...

Just when I had thought that we had seen it all.

Just when I thought things could not get any stranger.

Just when I thought we had seen the new Harper.......

It appears that the more things change , the more they stay the same.

Same Harper , same dirty tricks.

The more things stay the same , the more democracy suffers.

Dr Mike Popovich.