Burnt Bridges

Chantal Hebert at The Star:

The bridges Stephen Harper’s minority government burnt last week will not be rebuilt easily, if ever.

The abrupt withdrawal of the plan to end direct public political financing Saturday does not change the fact that the Prime Minister wanted to use the cover of an economic crisis to financially strangle the other parties.

Nor can yesterday’s about-face on suspending the right to strike of civil servants diminish the fact that last week’s fiscal update sent a powerful signal that the government sees the ongoing economic storm as an opportunity to settle ideological scores.

From the perspective of the opposition parties, there is no guarantee that the Conservatives will not be back with more of the same as soon as the threat of instant dismissal from government is removed. The window to replace the Harper government without plunging the country into an election will not remain open beyond the next couple of months.

Against this backdrop, even a full-fledged bouquet of olive branches might not bring some semblance of peace to the House of Commons.

As the government looks to neutralize at least one party in the lead-up to a Dec. 8 confidence vote, the Bloc Québécois – because it would not be part of an eventual governing coalition – theoretically should be the weak link in the opposition line-up.

But there are early signs that the prospect of a progressive coalition in power in Ottawa is popular in Quebec. Few Quebecers would mourn the demise of a government whose re-election most of them did not support and whose intentions toward their province are not necessarily benevolent.

Read the rest here

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