Monday, February 12, 2007

Harper Does a Muroney and Sets Out to Buy a Quebec Election

The Cons announcement of the Canada ecoTrust for Clean Air and Climate Change is coming out of part of the anticipated 2006-07 budget surplus and will be part of the March budget. Truth be told, it is another reinstated, rewrapped Liberal climate change program presented in a blue ribbon. It is based on political opportunism wrought by the standard shallow Con sense of whatever they can adopt from the old Liberal regime they cut, then imagine as their own and call it a new environmental policy of “Canada’s New Government.” (sic).

A total of $1.5B will be distributed on a per capita basis amongst the provinces. I wonder if they will use the old provincial population figures. That means Alberta gets screwed on the per capita formula (again) because the rapid population growth in the province in the past few years will not be accommodated in the old census numbers? That was an old Chrétien Liberal trick designed to short change Alberta.

The census people are even saying the numbers from 2006 are not accurate anyway. Is there any institution left in our society that has not screwed us around one way or another? Please Prime Minister, don’t pick up that policy chicanery of the Chrétien Liberals too. Please don’t let it be said that you are now screwing the west too!

So Harper is now sending $350,000,000 cold cash in Quebec to buy their loyalty but at least without the fraudulent subterfuge of the ad scammers. Harper is doing this cash timing scam straight up. It is a cynical attempt at purchasing Quebec support couched in an Orwellian label of an ecoTrust…soft on the eco and not worthy of the word “Trust.”

The money, we are told, is to come from the surplus of 2006-07, which is not yet known but is already spent. Prudent, Mr. Prime Minister, mighty prudent. Too bad the surplus doesn’t go against the national debt which is a smarter solution. As I recall Harper promised any interest saved as a result of debt pay down would mean lower taxes for all of us taxpayers.

NOPE – let’s not fritter the surplus amongst Canadians by lowering taxes as originally promised. Remember the day when Cons told us a government surplus was simply caused by over taxation? Will that promise of tax reduction simply have to wait? Let’s go buy us some Quebec votes instead. And how do you square that circle? It is the Mulroney years all over again, this time Harper style?

Different issue entirely we will be told…this program is necessary to respond to the top priority of Canadians. Refresh my memory, is that top priority the environment or to pay Quebecers immediately to get Prime Minister Charest re-elected? I am all in favour of re-electing Jean Charest - but do we have to do it this way? Do we have to buy Quebec again? Harper says this way we can avoid another referendum? I think it is a cynical playing of Quebecers for fools and ought to have the same backlash of Quebec sense of insult that Adscam did.

Let’s deal with the real issues of a distinct Quebec society honestly and openly and give them a real reason to feel included in Canada. This scam is just Harper submitting to the classic political extortion patterns of the past – and before it is even threatened this time. How prescient of you Prime Minister Harper.

Quebec was believed to have had a “price” for loyalty to the Confederation in Chrétien’s day. He wantonly and wilfully turned a blind eye and enabled Adscam as a result of that mistaken belief.

Harper is redoing the Mulroney pandering without the intrigue and insult of the CF18s fiasco. NOPE Harper is doing the very thing – pandering to Quebec for the purposes of power. That was the final straw that spawned the Reform party in the first place. Spare me. It is game show politics…the price has to be right?

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Next posting! I feel the need to weigh in on “activitist political appointees” who are being chosen based on their partisan pedigree and being charged with the duty of picking an “independent” judiciary. Will they be activist enough to protect citizens from abuse by the state or intellectually lazy or inept legislators? This new committee to recommend judicial appointments is an exercise of pure political power and is of a scale to make one weep!

This development for me goes over the line, and confirms that the Harper Cons are not only not yet ready to govern with a majority in the next election…they are not fit to govern period in a modern progressive democracy.


  1. I was wondering when the spin would come to paint a $1.5 billion announcement for the environment as a bad thing. This is no reannounced policy - it certainly was NOT in place once the libs left office.

    This is a very equal and equitable distribution of funds. $350 million to Quebec but the rest gets distributed. It respects provincial jurisdiction. I don't think Harper has to worry about an Albertan backlash here - rather the opposite. With our annual surpluses, a $5-$10 million dollar difference by using the census numbers will not change things much. If there was an easier and accurate way (what do you propose?!? - a headcount), I'm sure they'd adopt it. Ken, you're grasping at straws here.

    $350 million for environmental projects in Quebec is a BAD thing?!? Wow, the spin is amazing. Keep it up - if the liberals don't like it, they certainly have the opportunity to vote against it in the next budget.

    Again, Ken, you're demonstrating the liberal talk and no action. You want the government to invest in environment technologies but then, when they do, state we should instead pay off the debt. I guess it is difficult to set priorities;) However, Dion has set the environment as his priority and Harper is the only one who has taken any real action on it.

    There will also be broad-based tax cuts in the budget - you obviously know that as well.

    "I think it is a cynical playing of Quebecers for fools and ought to have the same backlash of Quebec sense of insult that Adscam did."

    Ah, Ken, are you serious? I will take that comment as a joke. Adscam INVOLVED LIBERALS NOT Quebecers!

    Finally, if the Libs are so opposed to such a measure, they have the opportunity to express it at the vote of the budget. For some reason, I think they're hestitant to do so.

  2. ken chapman9:37 am

    eric...this is a pre-Budget announcement and is clearly tied to ensure the passing of the budget...not to do the right thing for the environment FIRST. My question is what is the going to be in the budget that is an unacceptable quid pro quo trade off for this funding?

    This is announcement is a "rework" of a prior Liberal policy that was lost in the election announcement according to Charest in the news conference reported on television yesterday.

    It is better because it is a per capita program and includes all provinces up front. The Libs started with Ontario and Quebec announcements and the ROC was on the "never- never" plan. This is just positioning to assist Charest win Quebec provided he goes to the polls first and soon. Quebec will be in the throes of an election when the federal budget comes forth and the debate will be vociferous I expect.

    The level of brinksmanship that Harper is prepared to play with the future of the country with pandering and payoffs to Quebec for personal power will become apparent then. I HOPE I AM WRONG!

    Eric this are good things about this announcement but the cynicism it breeds over how it is being done is breathtaking.

    This is mostly about politics in pursuit of power not good governance in the service of a better environment...that is at best a by-product of this process.

    Good governance is always good politics, the reverse is rarely true.

  3. Yes, the liberals are indeed entitled to vote against the budget and quash the funding. However, if the libs vote for the budget, then the funding will flow - forcing the libs to vote in favour of the environment is a great step.

    C'mom Ken, politics is a blood sport and let's not go into the many times when the Liberals made policies solely in self-interest.

    You may see if as a "payoff" to Quebec. I see it as a payoff to the environment as EVERY province is getting funding.

    There's an extra bounce in the steps of Cons on the hills - if Charest wins, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be an election UNLESS the liberals don't vote against theh budget. If they don't vote against it, obviously that will be used against them at every angle (i.e. how can you complain afterwards when the government follows through with the budget, which is really the roadmap of the government for the next year).

    The Cons are playing the game like the Libs - that is, for keepers.

  4. ken chapman12:51 pm

    eric - for once I have no quarrel with anything you said at 12:05 p.m. I am just frustrated by the facts and forces you articulate.

    My point is how does all this stuff you point out align with anything but a pure play for political advantage? How does it improve the plight of the citizen?

    As a Canadian, I believe in Peace, Order and Good Government - I don't have anything close to that from the federal government right now. I believe what I have from the federal level of government today is War, Chaos and Political Posturing.

    Regardless of the party, is good government trumping pure politics too much to expect? Is it too much to ask? I think not! I hope not!

  5. Good point. I guess the only way it helps the citizen is if the budget passes and the money starts flowing.

    I'm unsure but I just think that Canada is not used to these minority governments - maybe over time, things will be better.

  6. Anonymous4:27 pm

    In regards to your comment about Alberta getting screwed on the per capita asessment - you are right, but on any per capita assessment we are going to get screwed.

    I find it laughable that the media, the environmental groups, and most Canadians point to Alberta as the "biggest emitter" but then would support a plan that gives Quebec a huge (if not the biggest) share of the Eco-Trust. Truely retarded.

    Quebec's "resource" is hydro-power, which is obviously non-emitting. Rather the bulk of the money should go to Alberta (and to a lesser extent Saskatchewan) because that is where the fingers are pointing... at the oil & gas industry. Per capita makes no sense here. If they are going to be truly equitable about funds distribution, it should be done on a "per tonne of current emissions" basis.

    But giving Quebec a small slice of the pie would not be politically salable - and hence not doable - for the Tories or the Liberals to implement.

  7. Anon, I agree with your analysis. But like you said, it would not be politically feasible, especially with a Quebec provincial election in March.