WARNOCK: A Canadian Coalition Government?

WARNOCK: A Canadian Coalition Government?

Postby Oscar » Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:12 am

A Canadian Coalition Government?

By John W. Warnock
November 30, 2008


Last Thursday Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presented his Economic and Fiscal Statement for the end of 2008. The opposition parties in the Canadian Parliament were stunned by the Conservative economic forecast and its right wing political attack. By the next day the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party Members of the House of Commons began discussing the possibility of forming a coalition government. The Bloc Quebecois agreed to give support. Elizabeth May pledged the support of the Green Party, which has no members in the House of Commons.

In the October 2008 election the Conservatives under Stephen Harper received only 38% of the vote while the opposition parties received 62%. While there were many Canadians who supported a call for a coalition government, no one was taking this seriously. But that has certainly changed.

World financial and economic crisis

Everyone is aware of the fact that the world is suffering from the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The bubble in the financial sector, fueled by the deregulation of the industry during the U.S. administration of Bill Clinton and the British government of Tony Blair, began to unravel early in 2008. Since then governments around the world have thrown trillions of taxpayers dollars at the banks and insurance companies to try to prevent them from collapsing.

Many countries are in serious financial distress. Iceland has declared bankruptcy and are unable to import food. A number of other countries are negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for bail outs to try to prevent collapse. Who would have thought that countries could go bankrupt?

This financial crisis has led to an economic crisis. The U.S., the UK and Europe are in recession. Business leaders and economists are declaring that Canada has also slipped into a recession. All around the world governments are declaring that they are moving into recession.

Japan, which has gone through a long period of deflation, recently announced they were again in a recession. Across Europe and Asia governments are introducing public spending programs and deficit financing to try to reduce the impact of the world recession. Even China, which has had the highest levels of economic growth, recently introduced a major spending program on infrastructure. U.S. President-elect Barrack Obama has announced that he will submit a program to stimulate the economy to the Congress on January 20, 2009, the day he is inaugurated.

What about the Harper government?

But not in Canada. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper has insisted that Canada is all right. The fundamentals of the economy are good. We have a budget surplus. Nothing needs to be done at this time. This was the central message of November’s message to the Parliament.

Indeed, the thrust of the government’s proposal is to cut $6 billion from the present budget. The Harper government argues that Canada is in a mild recession now, will resume economic growth by next April and will end up the year with an annual growth of 2.5%. No one believes this. Not even Harper’s allies in the corporate community. The OECD projects that Canada’s economy will decline by 0.5% in 2009.

There is also a major downturn in the U.S. economy. Over 80% of Canada’s exports go to the United States. Who really believes that the major U.S. recession will have little impact on Canada?

The attack from the right

In addition to the false picture of the Canadian economy, Stephen Harper used the occasion to push his right wing agenda. He proposed to eliminate the federal financing of political parties, a reform designed to reduce corporate influence in politics. He proposed that all Canadian public sector workers lose the right to strike during the period of the recession.

Furthermore, he launched a vicious attack on working women and minorities who use the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Commission to go to court to advance equality. Legislation would be introduced so that pay equity challenges would be limited to the process of regular collective bargaining.

The popular Canadian response

The Conservative Party has launched a media campaign to support the minority government and its policies. But the progressive majority across Canada is also responding. Leaders in this community are encouraging Canadians to write to Members of Parliament urging them to support a coalition government. You can join this movement. On the internet it is found at the following web site:

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