Stephen Harper’s Conservative government couldn’t be more stupid or reckless. Barring a compromise, the minority Conservatives could be toppled in a confidence vote on Monday night, opening the way to a change of government or a snap election, less than two months after the Oct. 14 vote.
For those who haven’t been following things in Ottawa that closely, the Conservative government announced in its economic update that it will end funding to political parties. The federal program provides each party with $1.95 for each vote it received in the most recent election. The total program costs $30 million annually.
The proposed change also impacts on the Conservatives but not to the same extent as the opposition parties. The federal funding covers only 1/3 of their budget with the rest coming from fundraising. But for the Liberals and NDP, the federal funds account for 2/3 of their revenue. The Liberals have about $10 million in debts coming out of the election and need the $6 million that it would get from the program to stay solvent.
Stephen Harper is once again showing how mean-spirited he can be. He is using the economic downturn to bludgeon the opposition. The opposition parties will have no choice but to introduce a non-confidence motion this week. Since we just had an election 6 weeks ago, the Governor-General is not likely to call another one. Instead she will likely ask one of the opposition parties to try to form a government. In fact, the opposition parties have already begun discussions on creating a coalition.
The dilemma for the Prime Minister is that even if he backs down on the proposed funding cut, he has awoken his opponents and to a certain extent empowered them. They may still proceed with a non-confidence vote to push aside the Conservatives. Their rationale will be the lack of economic stimulus in this week’s economic update which will likely resonate with voters. If this does play out in the government’s defeat, it will be the end of Harper’s political career. It will also be viewed as a bigger blunder than the reckless defeat of Joe Clark’s government in 1980.