Monday, December 1, 2008

Welcome to Bananada

El Primo Ministro Harper grafted a poison pill onto his minority government's economic statement. The opposition gangs balked.

The Harper government, in announcing a $28-million-a-year cut to taxpayer subsidies for political parties, thought it had a winner. Voters, feeling the pinch of tough times, surely would appreciate a measure that cut benefits for politicians.

What the proposal was really designed to do was give governing Conservatives a hefty partisan advantage into the future.

Conservatives are the most effective fundraisers in Parliament; their party doesn't need the taxpayers subsidies.

Secret meetings were held over the weekend between Papa Doc Chretien and Don Eduardo Broadbent to plot the details of a new Canadian junta to be installed after a pending parliamentary coup.

The official said NDP Leader Jack Layton asked Broadbent to call Chretien with the idea that the two elder statesmen could finesse a deal to defeat the minority Conservative government and form a coalition with support from the Bloc Quebecois.

The NDP and the Liberals together don't command a majority of the Commons seats.

A Librano hit man believes that it is imperative that Signor Harper and the Conservative gang of 143 be whacked ... now!

This becomes relevant because suddenly, he is weak. In fact, at this particular moment, he is almost unable to defend himself. Owing to a ridiculously ill-considered act of hubris, he has laid himself vulnerable to his opponents. Their imperative could not be more clear: kill him. Kill him dead. Do not, whatever you do, provide him with an opportunity to extend his hold on power. Because you can be damn certain he will never again be so reckless as to give you a chance to finish him off.

Generalissimo Dion and Colonel Layton have discussed the terms of the coalition junta and the division of powers, perks and entitlements.

A cabinet would be composed of 18 members from the Liberal Party and six from the New Democratic Party. The Bloc Quebecois agreed to support the coalition should it form a new government, the newspaper said today, citing unidentified people.

The coalition may vote to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s six-week old government as early as Dec. 8. Liberals are undecided on whether the prime minister in such a coalition government should be party leader Stephane Dion or whether an interim leader be chosen, the newspaper said.

But would the new junta throw Generalissimo Dion under the bus?

The Liberals are taking the prospect so seriously that some MPs are privately discussing ways to dump Leader Stephane Dion without waiting for their party’s scheduled May 2 leadership vote.

And to add to the intrigue, Colonel Layton and rebel leader Duceppe had negotiated toppling the government some time ago. The pieces were already in place before the government's economic statement, rendering disingenuous any reference to that statement, or its lack of a "stimulus package" as the reason for an impending constitutional crisis.

Layton, however, appears deadly serious when he pitches the coalition as a potentially unifying force in federal politics.

"Nothing could be better for our country than to have the 50 (BQ) members out of 75 who've been elected in Quebec actually helping to make Canada a better place. We just approach it on that basis and say, 'We're willing to make that happen. Here are the things we're going to be investing in and transforming together.'

"If they're willing to work with us, we're willing to accept that offer."

All this for $1.95.

Parties currently receive $1.95 for every vote they receive in a federal election, provided they win at least two per cent of the nationwide popular vote. The annual subsidy is used to pay for staff and expenses.

On the surface, it would appear Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives have the most to lose if subsidies were cut because they garnered the most votes in the October election. The Conservatives earned $10 million in subsidies, compared to $7.7 million for the Liberals, $4.9 million for the NDP, $2.6 million for the Bloc Québécois and $1.8 million for the Greens.

But because the Conservatives have such a strong fundraising base, their subsidy represents only 37 per cent of the party's total revenues.

By comparison, the subsidy amounts to 63 per cent of the Liberals' funding, 86 per cent of the Bloc's, 57 per cent of the NDP's and 65 per cent of the Greens'.

In the throws of a nascent global economic crisis, the "axis of weasel" has chosen this moment to add political instability to the mix.

The last word here rightly belongs to the lonely voice of reason in this sorry affair.

Absolutely no one pins even a sliver of blame on the Liberals, the NDP or the Bloc. Of course not. Faced with the unreasonable and extreme proposal that they raise funds in the same way as the Conservatives have been doing for years — by asking people for their money, rather than taking it from them — they really had no alternative but to seize power. What on earth were they supposed to do? Revamp their moribund fund-raising organizations? Find a message and a leader capable of motivating large numbers of Canadians to click the “donate” button on their websites? Get off their collective duffs? What were the Tories thinking?

No. No, the sensible, restrained, pragmatic thing to do when threatened with the loss of subsidy is to take down the government. The sober, reasonable, moderate thing to do in this time of economic uncertainty is to provoke a constitutional crisis — to cobble together a coalition without a prime minister or a program, propped up by a separatist party, and demand the governor general call upon it to form a new government, replacing the old one we just elected. It’s been six weeks, after all.

Thank God that Canada has such statesmen in this time of peril, willing to put partisanship aside in pursuit of high office. What a contrast to those hyper-partisan, power-mad Conservatives, with their insane demands that the parties make do on the millions in tax credits and reimbursements they receive outside the subsidy.

Interesting times in Bananada.

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