This past Saturday morning, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared live on national television to give both himself and the voting public a rogering so intense that I was surprised it wasn’t censored as pornography. After holding out as arguably the last truly conservative head of state on the bailout issue, he announced just over $3 billion USD in “repayable loans” (I regretfully gave a friend one of those, once) for American auto makers. $3b for General Motors, $1b for Chrysler, and a credit line for Ford. The only thing missing from the announcement was the post-coital cigar.
“This is a regrettable but necessary step to protect the Canadian economy,” Harper said. So he’s throwing a few million at a company (General Motors) so “broke” that it just opened a $300 million plant in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Two months ago, he was pointing out the idiocy of America’s spending orgy: “We don't need a Parliament that acts and functions like the American Congress…We're not going to get into a situation like we have in the United States where we're panicking and annunciating a different plan every day.”
So what happened? Well, the Liberal opposition party threatened to bring down Harper’s government over the lack of bailouts, and could attempt to do so again, at any time. So Harper reduced the daylight between himself and the opposition Liberals on this issue, and in doing so, tossed away his biggest trump card.
According to an Ipsos-Reid poll, 58% of Canadians oppose the bailout package. Yet Harper, who had a stellar approval rating during (and largely because of) his bailout opposition, has now been goaded into walking right into the Liberals’ buzz saw.
It really wasn’t even that difficult for him to maintain an upper hand on the economic issue. To wit, here’s a glimpse of his competition:
* The Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Critic, demanding bailout money for Native Indians: “During good economic times the Conservatives gutted funding for First Nations, Métis and Inuit. The Conservatives cannot be permitted to use the weakening economy as an excuse to abandon Aboriginal Peoples.” (When did the perpetual bailout of Natives actually STOP?)
* The Liberal Finance Critic, criticizing Harper for suspending parliament to prevent getting kicked out over his initial bailout refusal: “Mr. Harper locked Parliament’s door, delaying action for Canadian families, solely so he can save his own job. Mr. Harper has walked off the job, instead of working to protect Canadian jobs.” (In the event that Harper fails in “working to protect” meaningless rhetoric, Libs have that covered.)
* Liberal Leader, Stephane Dion (recently ousted by his own party for appearances’ sake), begging the Queen of England’s representative in Canada to let him become Prime Minister: “A month without a government that commands the confidence of the House is too long during these times of economic turmoil. Who can predict what urgent intervention by the government will be required?” (Yes, what ever would the free-market do if the government isn’t around to urgently intervene? It might actually function properly.)
*The Liberal House Leader, informing Canadians that the man they just elected Prime Minister is “completely out of touch” with them: “While Stephen Harper wants to keep Canadians and the world in the dark, the Liberals are putting partisan politics aside and working with the other parties to create a plan to put our economy and Canadians first.” (And by “a plan to put our economy and Canadians first,” we mean that we have “a plan to get back to our rightful seats at the trough.” And it involves stealing an election we lost. Also, attention world: If you’re wondering why you’re “in the dark”, blame Canadian PM Stephen Harper.)
* The Liberal House Leader, again: “At a time when every other Western industrialized nation is moving forward with packages to stimulate their economies, all the prime minister has brought to the table is ideological cuts and attacks on the rights of Canadians – nothing to help our economy.” (For example, Harper made cuts to the “Status of Women” office and forced some useless feminazis to find productive employment. Sounds like a sound economic plan to me.)
Gems like these make it obvious that if Harper thinks he has succeeded in quelling the Liberal noise machine simply by paying lip service to their bailout demands, he’s wrong. He is still going to hear about how he isn’t giving out enough treats, and how the auto bailout dispensed hard-earned taxpayer cash to certain select industries. And you know how Liberals fix that, right? By giving some to everyone else!
So where are the bailout critics in Canada? You’d be hard-pressed to find them. First, the Canadian media is rife with leftists and gutless wonders whose spines could be covered with a piece of dental floss. And party politicians in Canada are not free agents like they are in America. Each party has a position called the “whip”, whose job is to keep party politicians in line. If you speak out of turn or against the Prime Minister, you risk getting demoted (backbenched), losing your portfolio, or even being kicked out of the party altogether.
The burden falls largely on me to take the Canadian Prime Minster out to the woodshed every so often. That’s alright – I could tell from his bailout announcement that he likes it rough.