As predicted, Harper’s tone is returning to forceful form. The Globe reports:
“We cannot have in Parliament, quite frankly, instability every week and every month, every time there’s a new number, people demanding a different plan…” Mr. Harper said. “We continue to believe this is the action we need, and we’re going to need it in the months to come, and we’re not going to be blown off track every time there’s some bad news.”
And why shouldn’t he take a less conciliatory tone? The Liberals had a chance to reject the Conservative budget and form a government with the support of the opposition. They didn’t. Moreover, the only Liberal input on the budget was the rather pathetic demand for regular parliamentary up-dates. They had their chance to show leadership and they ignored it. Why should Harper listen now? Moreover, Harper needs to try to win back the support of fiscal conservatives and, for this reason, more spending is simply not an option for him. An election would make far more sense, even in these rough economic times. I would not even be surprised if funding is quietly scaled back or never used.
For example, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has already reported the actual stimulus in the proposed budget is about 20 per cent smaller than the Conservatives claim and some of that money might not be released because its release is contingent on matching funds from other governments (For details, see here). The strategy of saying one thing but doing another is standard operating procedure for Harper’s Conservatives.
So what can we expect in the near future for Federal politics: lots of whining from the Liberals and lots of bullying from the Conservatives. I won’t even say saber-rattling because the Liberals have no saber in their scabbard to rattle and the Conservatives will have theirs fully and clearly brandished. Until you see the headline, “Liberals Figure Out How To Engage People Outside Their Back-Rooms And/Or Fundraise,” don’t expect any substantial change in this rather tepid and predictable political drama.