Friday, June 13, 2008

Affairs Up North

Even after first hand practical experience I still find the Canadian politics confounding. It could be the national ‘niceness’, though that is probably only nice by degree; they are capable of being personally acerbic as any other national group I’ve known.

Still, the curiously timid approach to the US and politics in general makes it a difficult place to really understand. These thoughts were triggered by a media advisory I received last week, from Industry Canada and announcing a major initiative in my old haunt of Chilliwack BC.

Given the dynamics of what I do know I guessed the announcement might be to do with that rural cities major employer, Stream International. Stream is a call centre, attracted to Chilliwack under a raft of government incentives, all due to run out soon. Well a major announcement from all three tiers of government might suggest…

But no, the much publicised announcement was for a new online business permit and licence service called BizPaL! Whacko the chook! So bloody exciting I could shit! Anyway, it drew my attention back to La politique Canadienne.

Canada is not due for a federal election until October 2009 though the Conservatives are hading a minority government and could fail at any time. That doesn’t necessarily mean a new election as the Governor General can invite other parties form a government.

Conservatives a flying high at the moment with as much as 35% of the vote nationally, enough to keep them ahead in the minority stakes. But leader, Stephen Harper, faces the same economic uncertainties as other world leaders. He is also dealing with a weak caucus and bubbling scandals; the latest being l'affaire Bernier.

The main opposition, the Liberals, are determined to continue flying some sort of Québécois flag, ensuring a lingering resentment across much of the country. I guess if some of the more useful Liberal MPs followed David Emerson’s lead and defected Harper might find he has a little more talent to work with. Loyalty is not a strong suit in Canadian politics.

So here I am motivated to bore the rest of the world to tears and start scratching around again in the Politics of the deep north. I might just start with the story off two boobs, the mistress and the minister! We shall see.


lindsaylobe said...

I was surprised to learn (at last election time) Australia; but more particularly PM John Howard played such a pivotal role in election strategy for Stephen Harper and his party, youthful Harper apparently is good buddies with the much older conservative Howard?.

Harpers been riding high on the coat tails of the resources and mineral boom and the fact Canada is a sizeable net exporter of food means it has benefited enormously from rising world prices.
As a consequence I think Canada is better placed than any other country in the world to weather the storm! Its chalk and cheese compared to its nearby neighbor the US, as an appreciating currency confirms!! The resource rich pockets have seen phenomenal growth rates of 8-10% for the past several years. They can afford to splash around a few favors electorally don’t you think !
Best wishes

Cart said...

Howard had a longtime aversion to Liberal PM Jean Chrétien, and pretty much ignored Paul Martin; but then Howard was always a Conservative in his ‘broad church’. Harper was a natural for Howard, and vice versa.
But that resources boom has not been well managed, as pointed out in the just released
OECD Economic survey of Canada 2008 They are urging Ottawa and Alberta to create asset funds with stringent rules to direct energy wealth into foreign investment.
They note the future of farming, even for small farms, is in freer trade, with an end to government-imposed production quotas, public grain monopolies, trade barriers and farm subsidies. The OECD worries that our farmers are growing more, not less, dependent on subsidies and protection from international competition.
The provinces still have too many barriers to internal trade. Their spending on health care is not very efficient. At least five provinces have refused to harmonize their sales taxes with the national GST, and various federal subsidies and other payments are very uneven across the country.
Some economists say the federal government, like the Bank of Canada, underestimated the impact on this country of the near-recessionary conditions in the U.S. And the National leader I hold in most respect, NDP’s Jack Layton claims: "The government's handling of the manufacturing sector and the auto sector is an unmitigated disaster."
I get the impression, given the current global pressures, Canada is simply too fragmented at the moment.

Cart said...

Ooooops The OECD worries that THEIR farmers are growing more

D.K. Raed said...

Ok I'm just catching up from settling the new doggie in ... all I have to add is the old rumor that Harper and our own Contisleezy Rice are an intimiate item ... pretty much 'nuff said.

Oh and "whacko the chook" -- hmmmm, once again a new phrase I will need to investigate.

Cart said...

“Harper and our own Contisleezy Rice” Nash, not Harper, even Rice isn’t that low. It was wonder boy, then Foreign Minister Peter McKay who had been bonking fellow Can. Conservative high flyer, Belinda Stronach before she defected to the Liberals. The Rice episode might have been the old relationship bounce effect. But powerful women do seem to be attracted to the wonder boy from Nova Scotia.