Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Globe and Mail: Federal Budget 2007

The complete article is at the Globe and Mail. From what I have heard on the news the committee amending the Clean Air Act is having problems and a couple of meetings have been cancelled. It may be that the govt. will introduce the Act without reference to Kyoto and in such a form that the opposition will feel compelled to vote it down. This could be a trigger for an election since the budget will obviously pass.

FEDERAL BUDGET 2007: Analysis

The pros and cons of playing political chicken


Stephen Harper doesn't need encouragement to play political chicken with his opponents on the other side of the House of Commons. But that's exactly what he was given this week when his government's budget was so quickly accepted.

The big question of whether the spending document would pitch Canadians into a spring election was answered almost immediately Monday when Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe swallowed hard and voiced support for the plan.

But if the opposition thinks that this marks the end of Mr. Harper's aggressive challenges, senior federal Tories say they should think again, for the Prime Minister will only become bolder in throwing out dares that may eventually lead to a federal vote.

The guessing game of whether Mr. Harper wants to fight a spring election continued yesterday as hawks and doves within the party argued their cases. But whether or not there is a vote, senior Tories believe the Prime Minister is in the catbird seat because he believes the opposition sees itself as too weak to fight an election and can be forced to support government notions until it can stand it no more.

"My sense at this point is that he can keep pushing things until they say no, until they reach the breaking point," said a Conservative who asked not to be quoted by name. "From here on, he can continue to take bold measures on things that other parties don't agree on but they are too timid and too weak to fight an election on. So either way it's good. Either he gets things done that he wants to do, or he has an election on things he wants to have an election on."

Federal officials have been polling Canadians for their reaction to Monday's budget and whether support is strong enough for Mr. Harper to look for ways to push the opposition over the edge.

There are difficulties for the Tories in engineering their own downfall, but even federal Liberals concede that Mr. Harper can find a way to have the opposition pull the pin for him.

Mr. Harper can declare almost anything he wants to be a vote of confidence. That declaration could come should the Tory Party reintroduce a series of bills on crime that it knows the opposition loathes. Or when the Tories introduce new legislation on greenhouse gases that doesn't follow the Kyoto Protocol.

This can be tricky if Mr. Harper looks too opportunistic in bringing about his own defeat, but the Tories would probably gamble that it will be forgotten after a couple of days on the campaign trail.

No comments: