"We Need A Harper Minority": a non-endorsement
(image: Canadian Press)
I want a Harper minority. But don’t write me off as a Conservative nut, I’m no fan of Harper. His time has come and gone. The only question that remains is how he’ll go out.
The nearest exit is a minority government. If Harper gets a plurality, the NDP and Liberals will undoubtedly form a coalition, oust the Conservatives, and co-pilot a left-leaning majority government. The move may be awkward too for Trudeau, who doesn’t “believe in formal coalitions”, but pressure from the “anyone-but-Harper” crowd will be unbearable.
A majority coalition can only be galvanized by a Conservative minority. If either the NDP or the Liberals win a minority, cooperation is immediately off the table. In this world, we face four years of parliamentary deadlock.
Throughout the campaign, Conservatives have relied on the popular belief that Harper is the only person who can run the economy. The idea is the cornerstone of Conservative endorsements run by literally every major Canadian newspaper.
The “conservatives are the businessmen” cliche is far too simplistic to be taken seriously, especially amid complex questions of pipelines and Trans Pacific Partnership. But in this context, it’s even more risky to install a sustainable minority government of Liberal or NDP. The unavoidable inefficiency of a minority would effectively leave no one in the driver’s seat.
Canada’s economy has struck a patch of turbulence. When it comes to questions of oil, trade, jobs, and the environment, Canada cannot run on autopilot.
In an election where polls show narrow margins, our best hope is that the inevitable minority government — of any stripe — is short-lived. If the minority is Conservative, Mulcair and Trudeau will quickly seize joint control; if the minority is NDP or Liberal, a similar coalition with Harper is fodder for laughter. But not four years worth.
If you want to avoid years of minority deadlock, a Conservative minority is the best hope.
Admittedly, this is not a true endorsement; there is no box to tick for a minority government. In fact, since Conservative support is rather stable, the best way to relegate Harper to a minority is with a vote for the Liberals or the NDP.
That’s not to say these parties are perfect. Comparing apples to apples, the fiscal policy of Trudeau and Mulcair is pervaded by the same elitist undertones. Their shared message of “tax the rich to build the middle class”, sounds like a comical perversion of Robin Hood’s famous catchphrase — and the comparison is telling.
The plan bypasses the needs of the poor to grab the votes of Canada’s swollen middle class. This populist strategy is one of the oldest in the book, and in this election it's working like a charm.
But, while their fiscal plans may be troubled, they come without the baggage of Harper’s radical social policy. In the last year alone, Harper has shaken the political landscape by passing Bill C-51, Bill C-24, and reopening the debate on niqabs in the citizenship ceremony.
Each of these are a controversy in their own right, but together they point to the most dangerous Conservative impulse of all: foreign militarism.
As a party that has campaigned on its fiscal stability. there is no greater economic liability than an itch for war. As the last tumours of the recession reverberate over the oil sands, dropping bombs over the Syrian desert is the surest way to fall back deeper into the red.
If you are a voter in the University-Rosedale riding, Conservative candidate Karim Jivraj will be the first to tell you that intervening against both ISIS and Assad is a must, regardless of the economic cost.
Trusting the Conservatives with the economy is like hiring an accountant to sort your paper-money by the light of a molotov cocktail. The Conservative majority has to go.
The idea of a leftward vote-split has been a subject of caution through this election. But in the end, this dynamic could be the best chance at a short-lived, Conservative minority government. And in turn, a future majority government — sans Harper.
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