Monday, October 13, 2008

What Would Another Year of Harper Mean? How Progressives Vote Tomorrow Could Shape the Next Decade

I’m convinced that IF the Liberals run a great ground game, place their final ads well, AND (more importantly) rally additional Green and NDP supporters to their side in the final hours of the campaign then we will see the most progressive PM in Canadian history, Stephane Dion, elected to lead our country. But part of that involves getting the message out about what an even miniscule victory for Harper would mean for Canada and the future prospects of ALL progressive parties.

If Harper comes out with the most seats on election night I believe he will strike a deal with the Bloc Quebecois, seeing it as his only opportunity to regain favour in Quebec after badly blowing it there this time. That means Harper would have a blank cheque on votes in the House for likely up to two years and there’s not much Liberals and/or the NDP could do to defeat his legislation.

So what would this mean policy wise? Well it would mean that for at least two years there would be...
- No progress towards any new child care spaces or a national program
- Increased poverty levels across the country with the government having no plan to address it
- No new investments in post-secondary education, leaving Canada ill-equipped to compete on the world stage. Each year that goes by we would fall further behind
- Further embarrassments on the world stage as a successor to the Kyoto protocol is formally drafted and we are left with an even worse environmental stance than the United States
- Continued rises in greenhouse gas emissions as Conservatives continue to hold to intensity based targets only to please the oil sands
- Further backsliding on human rights: ignoring the practices Canadian mining companies in the 3rd world, ignoring our own citizens facing the death penalty abroad (and possibly bringing it back here), and continued opposition to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples
- Further head in the sand economic management so that our financial situation ends up like how Mulroney left it
- Extending of the Afghan mission beyond 2011 despite the fact that we will have done our part and likely could be used in other troubled regions of the globe
- Further gutting of press freedoms
- Further gutting of the Access to Information Act as Harper's penchant for secrecy reaches new bounds
- Further cuts to Status of Women
- Further weakening of the Gun Registry by stealth
- A continued carbon copy foreign policy that takes cues from elsewhere (remember most foreign policy decisions are not even subject to votes in Parliament)
- Paltry contributions to foreign aid and abandonment of Africa just as they need our help more than ever
- The final elimination of any spending room left to ever launch without needing to raise taxes (which no political party is ever willing to do) and much more that will have progressives realizing his second term is even worse than the first.

Now if you are a progressive and you think you can live with that for at least two years (possibly more) thinking that as long as Harper is defeated in the NEXT election after this one things would be fine and easily reversed, you would be mistaken to think the effects wouldn’t be linger long beyond another year or two mandate or that wouldn’t be even more difficult to defeat him in the next election.

The reason for this is that Harper would make every effort to spend the cupboard bare with further focus group inspired tax credits, maybe even another cynical 1% cut to the GST. That’s not only bad economic management, but it would leave ALL parties with less to offer in the next election.

For Liberals that should be obvious just look at how much financial room there was in our platform this time for child care, Kelowna and education compared to last time. There was less on all fronts because of Harper’s GST cuts and all his focus group tax credits that did nothing for our economy. Given the reality that no leader of any party (except the Greens I guess) is going to promise to raise taxes to create fiscal room for the aforementioned priorities any new tax cuts would likely not be reversed.

For those NDPers who think corporate taxes could be raised this election makes clear that that’s a non-starter for 80% of the Canadian population, not to mention all the recent NDP provincial leaders, who realize we need to corporate taxes to get our economy going again. I guarantee if Layton is around next time he won’t be promising to raise corporate taxes as he’ll follow the lead of every other NDP leader in the country. Even this time Layton has gone around claiming that he will never raise corporate taxes just cancelled planned ones.

Which means if Harper gets in this time, even for just one more year, it could take 6 or 7 years to bring us back to a financial situation where a national child care program, meaningfully investing in post-secondary education, a real poverty plan, and tackling the infrastructure deficit would and a host of other programs all progressives believe in become financially possible again.

So with less money available Liberals (and all progressive parties) would have less to offer Canadians in the next election and Harper would have ample time to re-tool just like Jean Charest did in Quebec when everyone counted him out. And he would obviously have no shame in calling another election at the most opportune time. Of course the potential is always there to defeat him next time (and all of us will hard just as hard to do so), but it’s naïve to think it would be any easier than this time and it’s naïve to think that whatever he did in his next mandate could be easily reversed.

Plain and simple many people will suffer under another Harper mandate, our reputation will worsen, and Canada will fall further behind compared to other countries who seem to better understand that fostering a green economy and investing in PSE and child care are essential to being competitive in today’s world. It would be very hard to catch up with each year that goes by with Harper in charge. I don’t think any progressive wants to see this happen to our country.

So it should be clear that the stakes are VERY high for all progressives this time out.

We can work together to elect a progressive PM that would work with the NDP (and any Green) MPs to work on common priorities in a minority Parliament. Harper will NEVER listen to NDP and Green priorities and Dion definitely will, they would have far more influence than if Harper was PM.

We could have the most progressive Prime Minister in Canadian history or the most regressive one.

I hope NDP and Green supporters realize that all our parties and, more importantly, all Canadians, would be better off if Stéphane Dion becomes Prime Minister tomorrow night rather than Stephen Harper. Only one of those two can come out with the most seats.

So if you were thinking of voting NDP or Green but live in a riding where they finished 3rd, 4th or 5th last time, if you vote Liberal this time, I know that a year from now you will not regret that decision and see that in fact your own party has played a bigger role in Parliament than ever before. For Green supporters this is exactly what Elizabeth May has asked you to do, and for NDPers you should know your party will have far more influence if you did the same. If this happens we will definitely have a progressive Prime Minister elected tomorrow night.

We share a lot in common and I hope we can work together bringing progressive policy for Canadians in the next Parliament. But that all depends on how things go tomorrow…

N.B.: I’ll be back later tonight with my last two posts of this election.

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janfromthebruce said...

In the Welland riding, the Liberal candidate is running 3rd place, behind the NDP and the con. So past results don't count.
In this riding, the strategic vote is for the NDP - right????

I will be looking for the response to see if you mean what you say, or really strategic voting is just about voting liberal - always!

Jason Hickman said...

If you pitch works, then Dion et al may indeed surprise people tomorrow. We'll see.

Why truly left-of-centre voters would play Charlie Brown to the Liberal Party's Lucy once again, and assume that this time, she won't haul that damn football away at the last second, is something that you still haven't really answered, however.

You raise the possibility of the Tories cooperating with the BQ. What if the Libs + NDP need the BQ to vote down Harper and, just maybe, form a coalition government? Would the party of Trudeau take that step, and do you think it should?

jenn said...

When Dion signs a guarantee that he will not fork over $50 billion in corporate tax cuts instead of funding childcare and pharmacare THEN they can call themselves progressive. Until then, the Liberal party is not a progressive party.

They will always put corporate interests ahead of the interests of Canadian families.

Danielle Takacs said...

Jan: Funny I was just talking to a Brock student today who's working on the Welland campaign who feels quite good the Liberals will hold Welland and he would be quite honest with me if that wasn't the case. also calls Welland for the Liberals.

Jenn: Jack Layton can't really get away with constantly praising Gary Doer and Lorne Calvert and saying he would govern like them when both those NDP Premiers CUT corporate taxes. Sorry but even provincial NDP Premiers fully realize that corporate tax cuts are good for the economy and benefit Canadians overall. Many progressive Scandnavian countries have realized the same.

I notice no one disputes what the consequences of a Harper victory would be though, so I hope you'll realize that those consequences can be avoided by electing a progressive PM in Stephane Dion tomorrow.

Jason Hickman said...

My failure to respond to your apocalyptic predictions shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of them :)

But my question stands: if the #s require it, should the Libs and NDP enter into some formal arrangement with the BQ, or not?

janfromthebruce said...

No matter how much you try to string "progressive" with "Dion" it's just more liberal rhetoric.
Duceppe said it best - Liberals campaign like NDPers but in power rule like conservatives. We know this mugs game.
Dion looks desperate.

P.S. More about that Welland poll.
someone posted in election

A poll released by the Thorold news on Saturday for Welland riding shows the Liberals in third!
Kiers (CPC) 28%
Allen (NDP) 27%
Maloney (Lib inc.) 21%
Mooradian (Green) 5%
DiBartolomeo (ex-NDP renegade) 1%
Walker 0%
margin of error +/- 5.8

This polls tells me a few things.

1. It is a tossup between the CPC and NDP and the Liberals are third - this poll could cause some strategic voting to the NDP's benefit.

2. The fact that the NDP candidate from '06 is running as an Independent is having no impact at all.

3. Once again, we sometimes see these suspiciously high green numbers at the national or Ontario level, but whenever its a poll of a specific riding - the bottom always seems to fall out of their support.

No wonder Jack was back in Welland yesterday.

I guess this old-saw is true - voting liberal means electing Harper conservatives!

Danielle Takacs said...

Jan I'm not going to trust any regional poll with such massive margins of error. The top 3 candidates are all statistically tied and it's just one poll.

I would MUCH sooner go by what I am hearing on the ground and I'm not worried about Welland.

I thought the NDP wanted to stop Harper and yet it seems they are now more interested in trying to knock off Liberal incumbents. Layton's actions don't quite match his rhetoric.

As for who's progressive, Layton himself praised Dion at your last convention as the most principled and honest of all the Liberal leadership contenders but said he was convinced the Liberals would never elect someone so honest and progressive.

Well we did and anyone who takes at honest look at his platform would call it progressive. Layton said Dion is a man of his word so I am quite confident he would be the most progressive PM we've ever had. But again you are really trying to switch the topic.

Do you agree that all the things I said in this post would be likely with a Harper victory? If not, why not? In the end I think we can agree that the only party with a realistic chance to have more seats than Harper and would work best with the NDP in the next Parliament wouldd be the Liberals.

Jason: I would be surprised to see a Liberal-NDP coalition because I don't think Jack is willing to bend on corporate taxes (even though every provincial NDP Premier has) since he's whole campaign was based around them. There are many other reasons why I would be surprised to see it happen too, but this comment is long enough already...

jenn said...

Danielle: The NDP are running to win. Conservative or Liberal same thing because they govern the same way. McGuinty in Ontario is case in point. The school formula has NOT been fixed. Affordable housing has not increased. Child care spaces have not increased - except when the federal NDP secured additional funding in 2005 NDP budget amendment. The OLP only increased the minimum wage by a fraction and by the time it is up to $10 an hour inflation will make the raise meaningless. The gap between rich and poor is increasing. Lets not even get into social services which are grossly underfunded and if you don't know that you should maybe work with poor people in this province as I have.

In terms of corporate tax. Doer and Calvert first got their social houses and fiscal houses in order BEFORE cutting corporate taxes. Layton has been talking about tying corporate tax cuts to job creation since he began running federally, today Obama announced corporate tax breaks tied to job creation. No more blanket corporate tax cuts. Why - they don't work!