From mean to nasty

You might have heard that the Conservatives have proposed cutting the $2 per vote subsidy which federal political parties have received since donations from corporations and unions were banned. This of course will reduce government spending by only a small amount, but it will succeed in making life rather difficult for all other parties. The Liberals in particular have been very dependent on this funding since the cap on individual donations was lowered. But the same bill would also make it illegal for employees of the federal government to go on strike, plus block their access to the Canadian Human Rights Commission for pay equity complaints. If this passes, I think we can all guess what Harper’s next step will be to reduce government spending. Although, I wonder: Can this sort of thing really survive a court challenge? Meanwhile, the opposition parties are pledging to vote against the motion, and form a coalition to avoid another election. Strange times.

The funny part here is that the ban on corporate donations was introduced by Jean Chrétien to reduce the power of his then rival Paul Martin. I’m no fan of corporate donations to political parties, but really, Chrétien ought to have seen this one coming. Or maybe he didn’t care, since he figured he wouldn’t be around by the time it became a problem.

In other news, the Quebec election is a week away, and still no-one cares. No-one actually likes Charest, but the other parties are too disorganized to pick up the slack, so the Quebec Liberals seem on track to turn their minority government into a majority by exploiting voter apathy. A fine trick, if you can pull it off.

Update: speaking of Chrétien, apparently he and Ed Broadbent are in talks regarding a coalition government! This has scared the Conservatives into removing the $2 per vote subsidy, and the anti-strike rule, from the confidence motion to be tabled Monday. Nevertheless the opposition parties all say they’ll vote against it, on the grounds that more than a few small tax cuts are needed, and the country can’t wait until January for the economic stimulus package they say is needed (if indeed one is coming — Harper is after all the guy who wrote his thesis on why Keynes was dead wrong to say the state had a duty to spend its way out of a recession). Like everyone else, I doubt a coalition would last long, but this still could be interesting.

Also, when asked about a possible coalition, Chrétien told reporters that he didn’t understand English. I see retirement hasn’t affected his sense of humour. He could, of course, understand the reporter’s English; it’s just that not everyone can understand his.