That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

The Conservatives’ latest own goal

Curiouser and curiouser. We know the extent to which Stephen Harper drives for total message control – so the sight of a group of Québec Conservative MPs in Nordique jerseys and thumbs up could mean (at least) one of two things:

1) Harper’s sanctioned funding for a new Colisée already – out of panicked desperation for something “feel-good” he can do, but we all see it’s another sign he’s lost his supposed “shrewdness” and is blowing any remaining reputation as someone committed to fiscal restraint during a time of deficit, or

2) J.-P. Blackburn and his Québec colleagues are going a bit rogue here – trying to force the PMO’s hand by whipping up Québec excitement in advance of a decision. A new sign of party rifts.

Either way, Harper now seems damned whatever he does. He’ll infuriate most of Canada if federal funding goes ahead for it, and he’ll humiliate his Québec caucus (along with any tentative voter support in Quebec) if he doesn’t. He’ll violently confuse his Reformer base if he’s seen freewheeling on a bread-and-circuses agenda and kissing boots in Québec while taking the west for granted, but equally he’ll come off as indecisive and not in control if he backs away from this now.

Perhaps there will be a national programme for arena development, so that the Québec pandering charge loses its stick. But does he really want to come off as a Johnny-Manley-come-lately?


Filed under: Canada, Politics, , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. I don’t have an vested interest in who wins the Labour leadership (not being British and all), but it would probably be beneficial for the party and voters if they did move back to their more traditional social-democratic roots. Not the really “lets nationalise everything” old school roots, but somewhere between that and New Labour. Ultimately, i think big tent parties won’t last, either in the UK or Canada. Voters are becoming pickier, more specific. In either country, if real PR were adopted (not AV), i think you’d see parties splitting up and realigning themselves, which would be a good thing, IMO.

  2. polygonic says:

    Thanks for the comment. I agree that PR would encourage smaller parties and single issue parties. Maybe ironically, I think they’d be less dogmatic and ideological: under PR, coalitions would be the norm, and inter-party cooperation essential. So the art of compromise would be perhaps more advanced – as it is in PR systems we see in Europe and elsewhere.

    I’d like it if big tents were losing their appeal. They’re harmonic fantasies, after all, and their internal ganglandism contributes to voters’ view that all parties are insincere and flip-floppy. But for the moment, I suspect most people are still unsure how they feel about PR and about European-style coalitions. There’s a sense, certainly in Canada and still to a degree in the UK, that ideal elections produce big, single majority winners. And the big tents are the machines to drive for that.

    (btw, this WordPress theme is mildly confusing – the comment area is in the line above the post, not below – I think you’re commenting on a different article! cheers)

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