Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Hack Doctrine

In case there was any doubt how the Cons' budget will weight the relative importance of the national interest and Stephen Harper's political future, the Financial Post points out Con insiders and supporters alike looking at the economic crisis as an opportunity to pay off the party's base and make life more difficult for future governments:
"It is a nontraditional time, but there is a traditional opportunity -- and it is in legacy issues," said a Conservative Party insider. "You can also spend money to please Conservative voters, with the public accepting that exceptional circumstances are at play and the global economy is giving you cover for that."...

"Temporary spending and permanent tax cuts fit within the ideology of the Conservative Party," said Henry Jacek, a political science professor at McMaster University in Hamilton (ed. note - and avowed Ontario Con supporter).

Further, Mr. Jacek said tax cuts would act as a poison pill of sorts. Either the Liberals opt to defeat the budget and defend the rationale of rejecting tax cuts, or they allow the budget to go through, but risk being stuck with managing a large deficit should they come to power later.
In sum, the Cons' response to a national recession has been no different from their typical focus since they first took power. Rather than putting any effort into determining what policies will actually benefit Canada the most, they're merely looking for excuses to pay off their current and potential supporters.

But the flip side is that when even the Cons' insiders are publicly trumpeting their intention to use an economic downturn for political advantage, there's little reason to think Canadians at large won't take notice if that message is emphasized enough. And the opposition parties have every reason to agree with the view that any effort to impose Con ideology under the cover of a crisis represents a poison pill which justifies removing Harper and his government from office.

Edit: fixed typo.

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