Thursday, February 16, 2006

Priority #1: Train the seals

The Cons may not have yet run into a problem with their socon backbenchers piping up and ruining Harper's pretended moderation. But they're now facing a second message problem to go with last week's grassroots anger, as the Cons' anonymous spokespeople apparently haven't been properly briefed on the party's platform:
The Conservative government's spring budget will not include a major cash transfer to the provinces to fix the so-called fiscal imbalance, officials said today.

The Tories will make good on their multibillion-dollar promise only in next year's budget after reaching a deal with the provinces over the coming months.

"It won't be addressed in the first budget," one federal official said...

(The Cons) see the fiscal imbalance as an ideal re-election trampoline for both them and their federalist cousins in Quebec.

"It could help Charest. And it's one more check mark next to our five priorities," said the federal official.
Now, it would be bad enough if the Cons really were holding off on their important priorities (and indeed the ones they'd promised to implement immediately) based on the potential for political gain. But when one takes a look at the Cons' five priorities, the fiscal imbalance is nowhere to be found.

And that leaves two possible interpretations. To be generous, it could be that the federal official quoted merely has an unusual affinity for placing checkmarks next to random policy documents as a means of celebration. But it seems more likely that even the people now speaking for the Cons don't really know what the party stands for. And if that's the level of competence that the Cons are bringing to government, all the well-timed policies in the world won't keep them in power past the next election.

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