First rule of electoral politics: Governments are defeated, not elected.
Second rule of electoral politics: when your political opponents are busy getting themselves in trouble — leave them alone.
Third rule of electoral politics: the first two rules do not always apply.
It is imperative that the Conservatives not form a majority government in the next election, and best that they lose power altogether. So, it is consoling to think that Harper — though he now claims to be keeping his options open — is perceived to be on the wrong side of the environmental issue, now in the forefront of pre-occupations in Canada.
With climate change a concern around the world, Harper, in preparing for the G8 summit, June 6-8 at a Baltic seaside resort, is still expected to align Canada with George W. Bush, while the host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attempts to get the U.S. to agree to specific commitments to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.
Abroad, in front of special invited G8 guests China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, Harper like Bush will expound on the need for neo-liberal reforms, and the war on terrorism.
At home, Harper’s own plan for a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 has critics mad enough to sue, encouraging others to get even come election time.
Many Canadians will be distressed to learn that feeding the American energy habit puts rapid exploitation of the Alberta Tar Sands ahead of energy conservation, environmental protection, or keeping the Canadian dollar from rising so high on the back of energy exports, as to close down all remaining manufacturing operations.
People who do not like to see their money wasted are not going to like it when they find out the costs of the Afghanistan adventure are going to exceed $20 billion, before the day in 2009 the mission is supposed to end.
Germans protesting against the use of the German Air Force in the bombing of Southern Afghanistan are organizing to disrupt G8 proceedings. As pressure builds to maintain a Canadian military presence after 2009, the Canadian Afghanistan veterans are going to start telling their story of what the Canadian mission is really about.
People who see exorbitant bills for the military action, and who are denied government funding for festivals in Quebec, Canadian studies research, cultural programs, recreation, social housing, urban transit, student bursaries, court challenges, women’s shelters, and child care, are going to support someone other than the Conservatives in the next election.
But, we still must deal with the Harper effect: incumbency, the aura of a Prime Minister, the media chill, and the big business support all bear heavily on Conservative prospects in an eventual election.
The CBC is taking Harper seriously. They have given his old boss, Preston Manning a daily radio show:This I believe. I believe he got the show in a shameless effort to stave off the budget cuts that are coming, or if Harper gets a majority, privatization of the CBC. I also believe turning over the CBC Radio morning show in Ottawa (and the weekly show The House) to a former regular host from the Newsworld Calgary studio is a weak attempt to make the Harpers, and their Western Conservatives feel more at home in Ottawa, as they pull their boots on in the morning.
We should fully expect the Canwest Global, CTV Bell media conglomerates to continue to mislead and ill inform Canadians on the issues of the day, as needed to help keep Harper in power.
If Harper falters, StÃ©phane Dion is the likely beneficiary. A Liberal minority government with the NDP holding the balance of power, would be the next best thing to Tommy Douglas’s New Jerusalem, especially when compared to a Harper majority.
For business leaders, and those who tell them what to think, Dion represents danger: he has yet to show he is coachable. Wait until word gets around that he has an unforgivable habit — he thinks for himself. Then, expect support to flow to Harper, as if we were in 1988, and the free trade debate was threatening to block business plans for this big continent. That is when the normal rules of electoral politics no longer apply, and democracy itself needs to be protected.
Climate change represents a big business opportunity, not just an environmental danger. All that is needed is for political leaders to buy into business thinking, as Harper is doing, and we are all going to pay, again, and again.
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