Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Pyrrhic victory

Conservatives say FU stands, Canadians can freeze in the dark until Jan 26

A Pyrrhic victory (IPA: /ˈpɪrɪk/) is a victory with devastating cost to the victor. Wikipedia

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a bid to suspend parliament, blocking an opposition attempt to topple his new government. The governor general agreed to Mr Harper's request, unprecedented in the country, after talks. If the request had been rejected, he would have had to step down or face a confidence vote he was sure to lose. Canada halts parliament amid row - BBC

The main opposition Liberals agreed Dec. 1 to form a coalition with the New Democratic Party in a bid to accelerate a stimulus package for the economy and oust the Harper government. The separatist Bloc Quebecois wouldn’t be part of the government though agreed to help it pass any legislation deemed matters of confidence. All three opposition leaders say they’re still committed to defeating Harper when Parliament resumes. Harper Suspends Canada Parliament to Avert Defeat - Bloomberg News

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has shut down parliament, sparing himself from a no-confidence vote that he was likely to lose. Canadian PM Shuts Down Parliament to Avoid No-Confidence Vote - Voice of America

So how did we get here? The answer depends on your perspective.

In a simplistic reading, our present situation is a direct result of what happened last Thursday. That day, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stood in the House of Commons and delivered his government’s fiscal and economic update. Presented as a national plan at a time of profound economic crisis, it included promises to eliminate subsidies to political parties, tamper with the public service’s right to strike, and fiddle with the system through which women are able to seek equal pay for their work.

It seemed designed only to corner the opposition. So challenged, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois found themselves with common cause and interest. Enter the coalition. And under threat of forced exit, the Prime Minister retreated to Rideau in search of reprieve.

That is the short version.

In the longview, it is the latest chapter in what is now an epic and troubling story.

In-and-Out. Chuck Cadman. Afghanistan. Torture. Linda Keen. Arthur Carty. Marc Mayrand. Dalton McGuinty. InSite. Listeriosis. Crime. Science. Academia. Elections Canada. Omar Khadr. Gordon O’Connor. Maxime Bernier. Canadian soldiers. The Military Police Complaints Commission. The ethics committee. The press gallery. CAIRS. Access to information. The federal budget. The economy. The recession.

The emblem of this government has become a furious male face screaming indignation in the arena of our democracy. At every turn, the response has been to obfuscate, manipulate and demonize. Everything has been opportunity to divide. Truth has been tangential. Ethics and morals have been deemed quaint. The Game has superseded all. Short-term political advantage is all that’s mattered. Nothing worth doing if it is not in one’s own personal interest. The Commons: A cold and miserable day - Aaron Wherry, Macleans