Same Old Story, Same Old Song & Dance
Accusations by the opposition parties of a do-nothing Government. The Government claiming that the opposition parties are obstructing their agenda and thus the democratically-expressed will of the people. Ruminations of a spring-time election. Doesn't it sound a lot like October 2005?
I haven't commented a whole lot on the proceedings of the fall parliamentary session because, frankly, there hasn't been much worthy of discussion. Plus with me working now, I don't get to see QP, the funnest part of the day. Of course I'm still keeping up with the news and I know what's going on, but I just haven't felt compelled to discuss much of what's happening. There have been, however, a couple things of note in the past week or so that I would like to mention.
The Senate's running wild. The Tories are accusing the Liberal-dominated Senate of gutting the Federal Accountability Act and removing some of its most forceful provisions. I can't recall something similar happening in history without there being major repercussions to go along with it. This is the type of thing that gets Senate-haters and Tory supporters in a real fury, because you've got an unelected body significantly altering the legislation passed by the elected House of Commons, and that unelected body happens to be packed with Liberals. Obviously the FAA was one of the cornerstone pieces of the Conservatives' election strategy and was hoped to be held up as a significant achievement heading into the next election campaign. That's in jeopardy, and a neutered version of the Act will not make the Government or many Canadians all too happy. It's the type of thing that Harper, should he get himself a good communications team (I readily agree with Jason Bo Green that he hasn't done a spectacular job of getting the message across), can exploit and suggest that this is why he needs a majority from Canadians.
The Liberals are seeking to undo one of Jean Chretien's finest achievements. On his way out, Chretien passed legislation limiting individual campaign donations to $5400 per year. In the wake of Adscam, the Conservatives are hoping to limit that even further, to $1000 per year. But the Liberal-dominated Senate wants to double that, up to $2000 annually. Chretien's original idea was a great concept, seeking to limit the extent to which large corporations and wealthy individuals could gain influence in Ottawa. It was seen as a peculiar move by many, given the Liberals' predilection for getting large amounts of money from a few wealthy donors, but also one of principle and an attempt to force all parties to be more active in seeking grassroots support from regular Joe and Jane Canadian. The Conservatives have done a fantastic job working within this new framework, building up a very large war chest relying on small donations from a large number of people. The Liberals have struggled, however, and their war chest--once a feared and vaunted element in their election campaign strategy--is much smaller and still relies on a small number of people making the maximum donation (not necessarily living people or adults, mind you). The motive behind raising the maximum contribution runs counter to the spirit of Chretien's policy, and highlights the lack of ingenuity by the party mandarins to get themselves back on track and adapt to new frameworks. If they do force the issue, it will give Harper further ammunition in an election campaign.