Harper, the Coalition–Struggle for Power in Canada

By Stormy

In Canada, all hell is breaking loose.

A newly form coalition of Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Québécois is challenging the recently elected conservative Harper minority government. The last time a coalition tried to wrest power from a sitting government–without resorting to a no-confidence vote that would lead to new elections–is over ninety years ago.

Harper, of course, is crying foul, but even some in his own party are suggesting he step down.

The coalition is a strange one. Stephane Dion, the head of the Liberal party, weakened by a disastrous election effort, is stepping down in May; consequently, if the coalition succeeds, he will be Prime Minister for only a few months. (Dion is not a very effective campaigner or spokesman.) The Bloc has its roots in a movement to declare Quebec independent. Huh, you say? The New Democrat Party have always been at war with the Liberals for Canada’s left. Together, the coalition represents over sixty percent of Canada.

That such a coalition would form to oust a sitting Canadian government is very, very rare–and not done in haste. Having just been through an election, the coalition is not anxious to put the country through another major election so soon after the last one.

So what happened to bring all this about?

One word: Harper.

He is a Bush-lite, a twig off the neo-conservative branch.

As an American living in Canada, I kept telling my wife (Canadian) that Harper is bad news for Canada.

A control-freak, he runs the government exactly like the neo-cons here. No one talks unless they read the right script.

The well coiffed Harper made a strategic and fatal mistake. Thinking that the other parties would never work together, he initially tried to take away their funding. (Political party subsidies are based on the number of votes received during elections.)

Harper was making a grab for real and permanent power. Seeing his error, he retracted the proposal. Too late. The monster had been unmasked.

In the background, were Harper’s corporate masters, ready to provide all the funding the conservatives would ever need. Sound like the U.S.? Indeed it does.

Already the other parties were dismayed at the Harper government’s failure to offer a stimulus package to assist the auto and forestry industries.

Additionally, there are deep suspicions that Harper would criminalize abortions, despite Harper’s protestations to the contrary. And then there is the “three-strikes and you are out” proposal and the failure to support child care for working women. And then there are the corporate tax cuts that many claim will just make the rich richer. All of which should sound familiar to Americans.

For those Americans who think Canada is just America’s little twin brother, think again. Canada has a real and living social safety net.

There are deep suspicions that Harper will try to undo it.

The question now is: Will Harper succeed in holding onto power? And if the coalition succeeds, will it govern successfully?

Harper’s counter attack is two-fold: Buy time and appeal to the electorate that all of this is unconstitutional. Then, by attacking the Bloc as an absurd coalition partner, try to divide and conquer. After all, the Bloc is a separatist movement. (Or is it, really?)

In short, pit the English speaking electorate against French Quebec. In making such an attack, Harper is risking the unity that is essential to Canadian well-being.

There really is no darkness to which this pretty-boy, scalawag will not descend.