Sunday, November 30, 2008

Is It Over?

I've seen several comments in various places wondering if—if the Conservatives ratchet up the stimulus—the whole "opposition deal" thing is off.

It may be. The opposition wouldn't necessarily have a lot to stand on, depending on how badly the Conservatives cave. They might decide that they can't defend their decision to the Canadian people.

But it shouldn't be. Let's be clear: if Harper stays in power, he will kill the subsidies. He'll make it a confidence motion, waiting just long enough to ensure that the GG has no choice but to call an election. He'll follow that up with a brace of conservative bills, all confidence motions, as he takes advantage of the financial disarray on the part of his opponents.

Meanwhile, Harper's as weak as he's ever been. The illusion of mastery is gone, and so is his ironclad grip on his party. Already some are taking advantage of it; others will follow. And now that it's gone, it's never coming back. People aren't going to forget his incredible miscue, and will refer back to it whenever he does anything remotely controversial in the future. He'll need the advantage that that subsidy gives him, because his other advantages are pretty much gone. He'll have crippled the opposition, but he'll end up at war with his own party.

And you know that? That doesn't sound like any more stable a government than a cobbled-together caretaker Dion government would be. So they might as well go forward.

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