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Mark McCaw ~ twitter's @bigpicguy

Author of "Insights Inside a Mind" ~ blogging the big picture

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Oh! Canada! Last Pre-Election Thoughts

     We will probably all remember Canada's fourty-first election as one hell of a ride. What many thought may be a cakewalk for Stephen Harper or simply more of the same are, at this moment, shaking their heads and asking: What the hell happened?

     It's not like anything earth shaking caused the campaign to change, in fact, it's entirely possible not much has happened at all. Maybe it has. As Monday progresses we'll get a better idea of how interesting the immediate results may be. Many things can affect the outcome of the election, however, the number one factor will be feet in the street. Will Canadian youth follow through on the strength of Rick Mercer, Nelly Furtado, and votemobs coast to coast? One telling factor may be voter turnout. People don't put a lot of importance on voting when they are happy. Angry voters make for exciting elections and sometimes surprising results. If turnout at advance polls reflects turnout on election day, Stephen Harper could have a heaping helping of trouble on his hands, or not, but we'll get to that.

     Since this is my blog, it only reflects my thoughts, my opinions, but I always welcome your comments to give me food for thought.

     I will admit, I'm stumped as to how all of this will wash out in the end, so, while it may be lengthy, I'm going to look at scenarios (based on my understanding of platforms/ideology), and, for my readers (especially the younger ones entering the fray) I will offer my analysis of what, in my view, your vote will buy you from the big 3. (Sorry Greens, I'm not leaving you out due to any bias, just because there just isn't enough support to envision a Green-led government)

     Don't write off Stephen Harper's Conservative majority just yet. Yes, I believe it is still a possibility, and perhaps even a strong possiblity as much as I dislike, no, hate the thought. All it will take are a few all-out battles between Liberals & NDP to allow conservatives to squeak up the middle. Now you may think me a little more insane than usual, but hear me out. In 2008 Stephen Harper broke his own fixed election date law when he thought the coveted majority government was within his grasp. He almost pulled it off, but Harper didn't do it alone. Naive is what you are if you haven't come to the stark realization there is a movement behind Stephen Harper, the hardest of the hard right love this man because his unrelenting lust to remake the country in his image means he will abandon any principle to achieve his aims. In the last election, groups and individuals generally dedicated to a more American Canada, most notably the National Citizens Coalition, engaged in a campaign to manipulate the vote by shoring up support for the NDP in ridings where Liberals and Conservatives were in close races. It worked, well, almost. Nothing in my imagination makes me believe they would not, with a little more help and a lot more money, roll this program out nationally, in a big way, with the support of those who would benefit the most from Harper being able to fulfil his dream of making this a more cruel and heartless country for all, except those who benefit from his continued support.

     With Harper in control of a majority, expect more of the same, only crueler, faster, and before you can say boogeyman, this country will not be the Canada you thought you lived in. The only interest in the economy Stephen Harper has is whether he thinks it can get him elected or not. He doesn't care if he has to give the most profitable corporations in the world billions of your tax dollars, he doesn't care that toadying up to US interests could cost your children 100 billion or more, those junk jets will be purchased and border security for the continent will be in US hands. Money is no object, Stephen Harper isn't interested in money, he is interested in ideology. His Canada does not incude people who can't take care of themselves. His Canada waves a rebel flag and throws tea into the harbours from coast to coast to coast to protest evil government interfering in your life, making you register your guns and fill out census forms and other such evils. For those of you expecting to see the end of medicare under Harper, hey, chin up, the other stuff will take a few years to do and continued medicare will help ease you through the transition as every institution you previously depended upon is not eliminated, which in many cases, requires debate in the house, just defunded. No money allotted in the budget. The program exists on paper only. When you get around to the next election, Conservatives will trumpet they are the party that "saved" medicare by increasing spending and people will say, yes, they did that, and now that everything else resembles the US, once you elect the saviours again, medicare will be dismantled the same slow, deliberate way, by defunding services we can "no longer afford to pay for", mostly because they've been buying your votes with barrels of your money given to groups and organizations who can help influence your thinking. Of course, none of us have that much money, so most of it will be borrowed and added to the debt of future generations, which, incidentally, Harper doesn't care about since he won't be around and his kids will fit that bracket that doesn't pay tax. He cares only about his legacy, as the Anti-Pearson. The Anti-Trudeau. The Anti-Canadian. Too many people have been lulled to sleep by the deliberate, brick by brick dismantling of Canada as we knew it. If you don't think the above is possible, just go ahead and let these people gain power in a way they can't be defeated on anything for several years. Take that as my personal warning.

     Well, then, it's been shouted, let's all run out and support Jack Layton and we'll teach Harper a lesson and show those Liberals a thing or two, Great. Well, I might be warm to the idea of a more socially progressive government, heck, it's downright nice to imagine a government that has a clue there are a lot of people out there falling through the cracks, contrary to popular belief, through no fault of their own. Since the NDP has never governed the country (people will point to past provincial NDP governments but provincial to federal are wildly different ball games) we must examine them a little differently since there is no track record to fall back on. This involves looking at their platform, listening to what their leader says, and remembering what their ideology is.

     Generally when one is going to pick apart any NDP platform, they will gleefully wade into the kiddie pool and go all kookoo on spending. Hopefully we are all old enough to accept the fact all of these people will spend money like running water where they need to in order to shore up their base support and attract new people if they can. Harper has no problem running massive deficits (approx 55 billion last year alone, a Canadian record) while promising lower taxes, and on top of everything else, spending around 50 billion on pet projects like jets and jails. I don't fool myself into thinking NDP spending will be any more out of control than Harper or Mulroney, I also don't fool myself that they can deliver on their promises and eliminate the deficit by 2016. Spending is not what continues to keep me from being able to believe the NDP is ready to govern, not that any spending is to be ignored, just that when it all washes out they'll end up relatively similar. What throws the gigantic stop sign, flashing red lights, red flags, red cards and screaming sirens off for me is a combination of ideology and what Jack has already said/mused about during the campaign.

     For newcoming voters, consider the NDP the Anti-Conservatives. Years ago, this wasn't really the way it worked because Progressive Conservatives were right of centre and Liberals were left of centre and the NDP was the left option. When Stephen Harper orchestrated his political takeover, he moved the conservatives to the far right, centrists and red tories were squashed leaving only one right, the far right. The conservatives are the party of big business. The NDP is the party of the suckers who work for those businesses, and for other voiceless Canadians, which is good.

     I looked at the strengths and weaknesses of the plans and ideas in the platform and overall, most of it is doable, some of it perhaps deliverable a little slower than anticipated, and some that will end up scrapped or just fall on its face. No platform ever gets enacted as is, top to bottom. While proposed NDP spending should and does ring some alarms, it pales in comparison to some of the things Jack has said that should make you walk into that poll and lay your x beside the liberal name.

     Just when I thought, good for the NDP they are getting closer to gaining power. Polls are surging, things are looking up and then ideology came back to bite me on the ass. In the space of about 24 hours Jack had responded to questions about higher gas prices and talked about regulating them. He also talked about intervening to keep interest rates down. These two alone are not only difficut or nearly impossible to do but they hurt the larger economy by scaring off investment. If companies have momey to invest and a leader has been known to entertain the thought of intervening or nationalizing they will invest it somewhere safer. This doesn't tough on a big NDP promise that, if enacted, will bring us all a lot more trouble that it would ever be worth. This is the NDP "reduce your credit card payments" promise which would have to involve some kind of legislative change to enact. Legislation like this first will cause capital to flee, in other words, big shareholders at the bank will see a loss in returns if the banks are ordered to take less revenue and they will sell off those shares to invest in something that isn't decreasing profit margins. Banks, in turn would have less money to loan to Canadian businesses and families and additionally will have to raise and create all kinds of new fees for service and probably increase their percentage margins on loans and mortgages to make up the revenue shortfall to increase market confidence so institutional investors will buy back in. The money you save on your credit card will come back out and more in other ways as all of this has a ripple effect. Until they forsake the idea that government intervention in key economic sectors and the threat that industries may be nationalized must be removed from their ideology, the NDP is not ready to govern without substantial damage to the economy, not through spending as most insist, but by policies that frighten business and big investors and make them timid to invest. For me Jack is getting closer, but still not ready. The NDP has ideas and issues we must address, but done so cooperatively so the final product is effective without taking us to a place that has been shown to hamper some Euro-nations.

     So this leaves us with the Liberals. While I am bamboozled about how they ran their campaign, at this moment in time, The Liberal party under Michael Ignatieff provides us with what we really need. A safe way to get rid of Harper without so radically changing econimic policy as to upset an apple cart that can't afford to be upset after the excesses of the Harper spending orgy. What the Liberals failed to get across in this election is they clearly are the party of the centre, both right and left of it. Liberals are more bent toward providing better social policy, but trying to do it in a way that doesn't derail the economy by getting too radical from a system that needs tinkering more than butchering. The best hope for Canadians at this time is for the liberals to get out the majority of their people who didn't vote last time. They also need some, or many, of those who are suddenly supporting the NDP without a clear picture of what that could mean to step into the box and realize for the good of Canada, at this point in time, they need to elect Liberals in an effort to keep Canada moving forward while we, as citizens, put all our efforts into working to change a system that is broken.

     No matter what. Vote tomorrow. Delete the conservatives and let start to work together for a 21st century Canada that works together, better, for the good of Canadians and the world.



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