Last October, I wrote this post, “Stephen Harper’s Gambit Gives Conservatives Effective Majority,” showing that the Prime Minister had, at the time, brilliantly check-mated Stephane Dion’s Liberals into granting him the ability to govern without opposition obstruction. Less than five months later, my analysis holds, proven by this week’s triple-header of Dion capitulations:
After blustering on about the unfairness of Harper’s power play against the Liberal-dominated Senate, Dion instructed his red chamber mates to pass the Conservative crime bill. Today, the Senate sent the bill to the full Senate for a vote, without amendments. Seems that the Senate is now in control of the Conservative leadership.
After drawing a line in the sand, stating unequivocally time-and-again that Canada would end its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2009, Dion fell on his sword yesterday, and agreed to extend the mission until Christmas 2011, as requested by the Prime Minister. Despite attempts to paint this as a Harper adoption of a Liberal compromise, this is a grand victory for Harper all the way, and paves the way for Harper to push NATO for a Petraeus-like surge to earn final victory in Afghanistan.
After submitting a laundry list of budget requests to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and receiving no consideration (as Flaherty bragged to Peter Mansbridge on tonight’s The National), Dion proudly waved the white flag of surrender once again, and announced proudly that he would not vote down the government on this budget – a budget that “spends” much of its money on tax breaks and debt repayment (don’t let the media fool you – tax reductions, rebates, and incentives are not the same as spending!)
So, now that Dion’s Liberals are completely cowed by the tactically-brilliant hardball-playing Harper team, what is next? Small-c conservatives will be looking for the envelope to be pushed a little bit further now. Government support for MP Ken Epp’s Unborn Victims of Violence bill would be a noble start. Fast-tracking of MP Keith Martin’s motion to modify the Human Rights legislation would be another nice move. Advancing the cause of free-market health care DELIVERY by asking the Supreme Court to universalize the Chaoulli decision would be a third move to start moving the center in Canada just a little bit farther out of the far left camp.
However you look at it, this week’s events are cause for great celebration in the Conservative leadership in Ottawa, cause of great hope for small-c conservatives across the country, and cause for hair-pulling frustration for those who still believe in the relevance of the reds. Of course, they’ll do what libs always do – claim victory when defeated, and retreat to the only thing they are actually good at – demagoguery. Look for the never-humbled opposition to start lashing out with obnoxious hyperbole like you’ve never seen before.