Although the budget may not look very conservative, its long run impact is very consistent with the goal of a smaller, leaner federal government. In that way, the budget is very consistent with Harper’s incremental conservatism.
And it all comes down to this: budget day! Things in Canadian politics have been pretty slow over the last month or so. But today we see the budget that will determine not only the way the government responds to the recession we’re experiencing, but also the future of the Liberal-NDP coalition. The NDP and the BQ have pretty much indicated that they oppose the budget and want the coalition to proceed. Since Michael Ignatieff has become the leader, he’s been decidedly cooler about the coalition idea than his predecessor, Stephane Dion. It seems clear to me that the Liberals are going to support the budget. There’s enough there that they can take credt for and support and not enough to justify bringing down the government.
The federal government is going to unprecedented lengths to offer Canadians a preview of Tuesday’ budget. Proponents claim the move will allow Canadians to digest all of the specific measures in manageable bites, while opponents say the government is trying to get all of the "bad news" out of the way early. Either way, a series of weekend press conferences and television appearances have let several cats out of the bag, and we expect even more announcements today. Here’s a running list of what (not) to look for in the upcoming Throne Speech and Budget:
The current economic downturn offers a unique environment in which to test the strengths and weaknesses of Canada’s various "Balanced Budget Legislation" (BBL) regimes.
Andrew Steele has written a strange article describing potential successors for Stephen Harper as Conservative leader should the government be defeated in January. I doubt that Harper is in any real danger even if he does lose a confidence vote – there are no formal mechanisms to remove him as leader in the short term and no other candidate has anything resembling Harper’s rock-solid base of support within the party.
What about the coalition? What can we learn, tactically, from their performance?