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How to Handle a Conservative Majority, Part Two

07/13/2011

CreativeCommons.ca

This is the second post in a three-part series discussing the long-term outcome of the Canadian federal elections in May. Today’s post outlines the likely trajectory for Stephen Harper and his Conservative majority.

It’s impossible to predict the future, but we can infer certain things from available evidence. Based on Harper’s reluctance to answer journalists’ questions and his recent elimination of the long-form questionnaire, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that he isn’t overly interested in what the Canadian public wants. This conclusion seems especially appropriate, considering the fact that the Conservatives won their majority with only 39.6% of the vote.

So where do Harper’s interests lie? In 1997 he called Canada “a welfare state in the worst sense of the term”. But this seems odd, in light of his repeated efforts to cut the taxes paid by corporations. Maybe they don’t count.

Canadian corporations aren’t currently allowed to make donations to political parties, but the Conservative party intends to loosen those laws. A reciprocal relationship.

Under the Harper government Canada has accumulated the largest deficit in its history. Meanwhile, Harper has allocated billions of dollars in the 2011 budget to build fighter planes and super jails. So, presumably making war and jailing people will be big priorities during the next four years.

In the same budget, funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science was cut completely. And the ship they were going to use to study climate change is now being leased to Imperial Oil and BP instead for oil exploration.  So, environmental stewardship will probably be a little farther down on the priority list.

Image credit: flickr user eschipul

The Internet, on the other hand, is a huge priority for Harper and his Conservatives. But that might not necessarily be a good thing. During the election, advocacy group OpenMedia.ca sent each Canadian political party a survey about their Internet policies. The Conservative party refused to answer.

And since being elected, they’ve been trying to pass a set of laws that will that will grant them sweeping powers of surveillance over the Internet and force Internet Service Providers to redesign their networks in order to allow real-time monitoring.

What else have the Conservatives done since being elected? Well, in late May they initially refused to send additional troops to help flood victims in Quebec’s Richelieu Valley because they didn’t want to compete with the private sector, which they deemed capable of taking care of things on its own.

And maybe that tells you everything you need to know about how Stephen Harper and his Conservatives will behave during the next four years.

Click here for Part Three

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