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So Tell Me About Canada

So Tell Me About Canada

I don’t follow Canadian politics very much.  I don’t even have a “Canada” post tag, there’s no need to.  [insert obligatory Canada joke here]

Conservatives in Canada apparently won a huge victory.  But “conservative” elsewhere does not always mean what it means here.

So tell me about what happened in Canada.

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That's good news despite the fact that the conservatives in Canada are basically equivalent to moderate democrats down here. The best part is that they finally won a majority, which means there won't be votes of non-confidence happening anytime soon. I have gotten the impression that politics have been shifting right in the great white north for some time, perhaps the Conservative party will respond by shifting to the right on key issues. Despite all it's flaws, Canada does a lot of things better than the US with tax rates and resource exploration. A libertarian think tank actually rates Canada as freer than the US using their formula of different kinds of economic freedom.

http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

Basically two major parties, the Liberals (center-left) and the Bloc Quebecois (Quebec sovereignists) collapsed. The Conservative (right) and New Democratic Party (left) captured a lot of those seats.

The Conservatives got enough seats to form a majority government. Technically it's a huge victory in that they can now pass legislation without requiring the support of another party.

Practically, we'll see. Sometimes it's like giving them enough rope to hang themselves. The last time the conservatives were in power, they introduced a 7% VAT, and saw themselves reduced from a majority government to 2 seats. It took them about a decade and a half to get back to a position of strength.

Yes, the Conservatives in Canada won a very large victory. Ever since the 2008 federal election, the Conservatives have held the reigns of government. Catch was, because they did not have a majority in the House of Commons, they had to govern with the assent of one of the other three parties – NDP, Liberals, and Bloc Quebecois.

This past federal election – the one that happened this past week – the Conservatives finally won a majority of seats – which means that they do not need the support of one of the other parties to govern the nation.

Additionally, this election was historic for three other reasons. First, the socialist leaning New Democratic Party – NDP – won more seats in their entire parties history, becoming the official opposition. Second, the Liberals – Canada's historic "governing party" – as well as the separatist Bloc Quebecois – were almost wiped out of existence. And Third, the Green party, which has been trying to win a seat in the House of Commons for over two decades, was successful by electing leader Elizabeth May in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding of B.C.

As for what a "Conservative" government means in Canada, I would say that the party is a cross between the Democrats and the Republicans – with the majority of Conservatives here taking the social viewpoint of Democrats and the fiscal viewpoint of Republicans – sans healthcare.

The way I've had it explained to me by a Canadian friend, the Conservative Party is genuinely Center-Right these days, but, because the Liberals through their long dominance from Trudeau on have succeeded in shifting the fulcrum of the Canadian politcal dialog to the Center-Left. So, on forming his minority government, Harper had to go slowly in his reforms, not pushing for faster and greater change than his people were willing to accept. (A lesson for Obama there.) Now that he has a majority, I expect him to mover further in a free-market direction, but, again, not much faster than what the voters are comfortable with. The massacre they suffered under Mulroney is still vivid in the party's memory.

Harper’s triumph: a realignment of historic proportions
The Globe and Mail, by Lawrence Martin

"With his impressive election triumph Monday, Stephen Harper has completed a remarkable reconstruction of a Canadian political landscape that endured for more than a century."

"Not long in power, the forging of the new dynamic sees this Prime Minister already meriting a special place in the pantheon of Canadian leaders. Such a place is owed to him for another reason as well. No other federal leader has started from so far back and from so far outside the middle of the spectrum and emerged such a winner. A decade ago, Stephen Harper was heading up a small right-wing group called the National Citizens Coalition. He took over a Canadian Alliance shoehorned in the West and nowhere in the polls and in competition with the old Tories. He led the unification drive and won the leadership of the new Conservatives. He built a superior organization, won two minorities and a now a majority, crushing the Grits in the process."

"His only major opponent are the lefties of the NDP with their new and perhaps tenuous base in Quebec. That province is no longer crucial to the Prime Minister. Conservative leaders always thought a coalition between the West and Quebec nationalists was necessary to win a majority. In this election, Mr. Harper proved no such coalition is necessary. He proved that the West and Ontario can suffice.

In many ways, the new political dynamic he has brought to Canada is a right fit for him. It is a Canada he may well be able dominate for a decade or more to come."

The Globe and Mail

Who is the New Democratic Party (NDP)

"The bad news here is that Canada's extreme left is now the opposition party, suggesting a sharper ideological polarization more typical of America. New Democratic leader Jack Layton moderated his populist tone during the campaign but the party's official "constitution," as reported on in the Canadian press, is anything but moderate. It includes references to "the extension of the principle of social ownership" and promises to increase government control of the economy in the interest of social justice and the environment. If the Tories mess up, the NDP would be poised to take the country sharply to the left."

National Post

MEMBER PARTIES of the SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL:
Canada New Democratic Party, NDP/NPD

Obligatory Canadian joke (save for future usage):

How do you spell "Canada"?
C, eh? N, eh? D, eh?

I'd keep an eye on Kate's blog at http://www.smalldeadanimals.com and Kathy Shaidle's blog at http://www.fivefeetoffury.com and start from there. They're both awesome Canadian conservative bloggers and frequently touch on Canadian politics

"[insert obligatory Canada joke here]"

Well, we just will have Nunavut, now will we!

From what I understand, Canada is one of those unstable foreign countries we import most of our oil from.

These evil Canucks drill in desolate areas similar to our beloved and beautiful ANWAR.

They must be stopped if we are to halt climate change. I suspect it is part of a plot to get longer summers and milder winters. I evidence this by the fact that the Puerta Vallarta resort we stayed at last Christmas was infested with these people.

Should we ever go to war with Canada- it will likely be over oil.

This is the first majority government the 'new' Conservative party has had. We know that they have been careful and disciplined while leading Minority governments. They have a number of objectives that they will probably move forward on. The long-gun registry will likely be ended, they will move towards a balanced budget, and will probably take some action on reforming the senate.

On social matters, the CPC is committed to allowing free votes. (Which means that they will not bring forth such legislation, and will not exert party discipline on such matters if they are brought forth as private members bills.
7
The NDP has a major challenge, as they have a large & inexperienced Quebec wing that comprises half their caucus. Will they be able to remain relevant to the rest of the country and retain their new popularity in Quebec?

Interesting days.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have just won a majority of seats in the Canadian Parliamentary election and therefore, after nearly five years of leading a minority government constantly at the mercy of votes of no confidence from other parties, he will be Prime Minister with a good working majority and beholden to nobody else except his own supporters.
Strangely enough very few people expect to see massive policy changes or initiatives because, despite lacking an overall majority, Harper has already transformed the Canadian political and economic landscape as the BBC, in a surprisingly honest assessment , has been forced to admit.
Analysts say the prime minister has slowly nudged the country further to the right during his five-year tenure.
He has lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided signing climate change legislation and become a stark advocate of Arctic sovereignty.
He has also increased military spending and extended Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan.
He campaigned on his record of economic management. Since Canada has come out of the recession with one of the strongest and healthiest economies of the G7 he was able to make a very effective case. However he promised to focus on lowering taxes even further and reducing the deficit.
Read more here http://www.theagedp.com/?p=2651

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have just won a majority of seats in the Canadian Parliamentary election and therefore, after nearly five years of leading a minority government constantly at the mercy of votes of no confidence from other parties, he will be Prime Minister with a good working majority and beholden to nobody else except his own supporters.
Strangely enough very few people expect to see massive policy changes or initiatives because, despite lacking an overall majority, Harper has already transformed the Canadian political and economic landscape as the BBC, in a surprisingly honest assessment , has been forced to admit.
Analysts say the prime minister has slowly nudged the country further to the right during his five-year tenure.
He has lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided signing climate change legislation and become a stark advocate of Arctic sovereignty.
He has also increased military spending and extended Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan.
He campaigned on his record of economic management. Since Canada has come out of the recession with one of the strongest and healthiest economies of the G7 he was able to make a very effective case. However he promised to focus on lowering taxes even further and reducing the deficit.
Read more here http://www.theagedp.com/?p=2651

Obligatory Canadian joke:

The standard for "the most boring headline ever", according to an annual contest in The New Republic, was "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative".

My reply was too long, so I'll have to break it down into bite-size pieces:

Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservatives, and Prime Minister, finally won enough seats to form a majority — that is, he can govern without having to form an alliance with one of the opposition parties.

Stephen Harper is a true Conservative, and hails from Calgary, AB. He is an economist by trade and fiscal hawk, hews to the principle of small government, and is very sensitive to the energy sector, since he is/was an MP from Alberta. (The Cdn equivalent of Texas 😉 ). He is also pro-military and a strong proponent of maintaining the NATO alliance.

What many Americans do not know is, Stephen Harper was also one of the founding members of the "Reform Party", headed by Preston Manning. After the dissolution of the Reform Party, there was a messy battle between the mushy "Progressive Conservatives" (think RINO) and the more rightist small-government "Reform" members (think Tea Party).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_Party_of_Canada

The Reform Party, which originated in Alberta, was like a precursor to the US-Tea Party. They split the Conservative party into two competing factions. The Reform party wing of the Conservative movement did eventually win enough seats to become the loyal Opposition, but fell apart around 2000. Stephen Harper was instrumental in reuniting/healing the various factions of the Conservative/Reform/Alliance movement on the right to constitute the new, "improved" Conservative party (no "Progressive label").

The leader of the Liberal Party, who were an almost invincible machine that had dominated Canadian politics for decades, Michael Ignatieff, was a socialist-leaning Harvard prof who had been out of the country for 30 years, had absolutely NO experience in government or business, (sound familiar???) but thought he could parachute in, and with his superior Ivy League intellect and wisdom, tell Canadians how to fix themselves. He is the one who forced the election, and ended up losing his own seat in Quebec, and oversaw the implosion of his party. So, I guess it's back to Hah-vahrd for Iggy! (DLTDHOTWO!)

The leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Jack Layton, is now the official Opposition. My feeling is that voting for the NDP was a protest vote against the Liberals. The last time the NDP won any type of meaningful number of seats was the 1990 Ontario provincial election, where Bob Rae won as Premier (almost as much of a surprise to him as it was to voters when everyone woke up on the day after election day – Wiki calls it a "shocking upset"– and it was!). Bob Rae's NDP win was also a backlash/protest vote against both the Conservatives and Liberals at the time. There was ALOT of voter anger at both of the main parties (Conservative/Liberal). His government was a disaster, and he did not win a second term, and the NDP was decimated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontario_general_election,_1990

Likewise, I am not that worried about the NDP as the Opposition/Shadow cabinet, save for having to deal with Jack Layton's shameless mugging and posturing. A typical Marxist, he advocates shamelessly for class warfare and race-based divisive politics. Same old, same old as the Socialists/Marxists everywhere. His wife, Olivia Chow, now is an MP in her own right, representing the riding of Trinity-Spadina in Toronto, and is a complete loon. (Think Cindy Sheehan/Cynthia McKinney level of looniness).

I had the misfortune of working with Jack Layton when he was still on city council around 1990 in Toronto on a number of "social justice" issues. In my opinion, he lacks any sense of personal ethics, and is only interested in achieving raw power and plums/patronage he can distribute to consolidate his power, over any gains/improvements for the taxpayer. (think Chicago-style politics).

In summation:
I predict Harper will now move towards continuing to lower the federal sales tax rate, federal corporate income tax rate, support more oil exploration and R&D;, move to work with the provinces to continue to reform the broken "universal payer" health care system, as well as keep an even hand on the Central Bank policy to keep inflation in check. (The Central Bank in Canada is owned by the people of Canada, unlike the Federal Reserve in the US, which is a privately held banking cartel).

In sum, Harper's majority win is good for the US. It brings stability to the government in Canada (no more worries about a vote of non-confidence or prorogue of parliament because of political gamesmanship of the opposition parties), and Canada will continue to be a reliable energy exporter — something the US will come to rely upon even more if the ME craziness continues.

Oh, and the Bloc Quebecois, who advocate for the separation of Quebec, were wiped off the electoral map. That tells me the younger generation are no longer interested in the divisive separatist/nationalist politics. That's a good thing.

"Someone once did a contest here in Canada where you were supposed to complete the sentence 'As Canadian as…' as in 'As American as apple pie.' The winner completed it with 'As Canadian as possible under the circumstances.'"

Margaret Atwood as quoted in the San Jose Mercury News page 6C, January 20, 1994.

P.S. The version of the Most Boring Headline Ever contest winner that I heard is "Canadian Initiative Succeeds."

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