Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Harper Given Chance to Govern

The election is over. Harper has been given the chance he has been looking for since the merger of the Alliance and the Progressive Conservative parties - the chance to govern. However, since he managed to achieve only a minority government, it will be interesting to see how much governing he will be capable of. Harper has the difficult task of selecting a cabinet that is reflective of Canada not just Alberta. Some Albertan MPs will not be happy, but tough shit I say. It is likely that at least 2 former Mike Harris cabinet ministers will be given key cabinet positions - both as a recognition of Ontario and as a recognition that these MPs have government and cabinet experience. The first cut in GST and the child care subsidy should be introduced shortly.

The Liberal Party did better than I expected. It was not totally wiped out. Stepping down as the leader but staying on as an MP was one of the best decisions Martin has made in the past 18 months. This gives the Liberal Party the chance to find a leader that will bring the party back together. Martin was a good finance minister. He could have been a better Prime Minister if the Liberal Party was not in disarray. Good luck to the next leader of the Liberal Party.

The rise of the NDP is questionable. Obviously it was a vote for change, but was it a one-time deal? If the Liberal's get their act together, I suspect that many of those that voted for the NDP will switch back to voting Liberal. Then again, stranger things have happened in Canadian politics.

Much has been said in the press about the fact that the Conservatives have little common ground with the three other parties. That is wrong. From a fiscal point-of-view, the Liberal's and the Conservatives were similar. They differed in how government money should be used in some programs, but for the most part, both parties were saying the same thing on fiscal policy. The NDP is big on ethics and governance, so there is some common ground there. And Harper's acknowledgement of the fiscal imbalances between the Ottawa and the Provinces and leaning towards a looser federation should sit well with the Bloc. The trick is juggling these competing interests. The coming 18 months will be interesting to watch.

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