The Long Slow Death of a Minority Government
Okay, okay Harper isn't fiendish, in fact, I'd say he's making a bit of an ass of himself. Harper is threatening to crash his minority government yet again. (rolls eyes and yawns) Desperate to force the opposition parties to challenge him on the issue of his choosing, Harper has made the extension of the Afghanistan mission and the C-2 crime bill (yet again) confidence votes. Pretty feeble if you ask me. BillC-2 is pretty broad and something that the opposition Liberals could accept with little problem. The NDP and Block may have their issues with C-2, but I suspect that opposition to the bill isn't uniform within their ranks.
The Afghanistan mission is another thing altogether, however, with the NDP and the Block standing firmly against, the new Conservatives strongly in favour and the Liberals (typically) squirming and fudging their way somewhere inbetween the waves of public opinion. Harper commissioned an ex-Liberal cabinet minister, John Manley, to deliver a non-partisan report on the Afghan mission and give recommendations on whether Canada should stay or go.
Centre-right Manley, not surprisingly, is in favour of staying in Afghanistan providing NATO allies increase their own troop contributions, etc. The Liberals put Canada into Afghanistan so if they vote in favour of staying it wouldn't surprise me, especially given that one of their own has come up with the plan to allow them to save face. Politicians have talked the talk about bringing the government down, but all parties have yet to walk the walk.
All the parties are waing to bring down the government when it suits them to do so and on an issue of their choosing. Our would-be king in the wings, Little Stevie Harper, doesn't play well with others, so the multi-spectrum consensus building that could really make this government work - the kind of government I think Canadians desire - is just a dream. What is the point of being a Canadian Prime Minister if you can't rule with as absolutely as others (political allies and enemies alike) have done so in the past? Our would-be king is playing the baiting and waiting games. By doing so, he believes he is putting himself in a position of strength.
So far, Harper might be able to say that since the opposition parties haven't toppled him yet he must be doing a good job, so why not give him a majority so he can do an even better job? Had the other parties toppled him on the budget or the crime bill he can come back and say the opposition parties don't have Canadian concerns at heart, given that lower and middle income tax cuts and crime prevention are keen Canadian concerns. If they topple him on Afghanistan, Harper can come back and say that they don't support the troops or that they are turing their backs on Canadian traditions and on a poor and destitute people who need international help to get back on their feet again.
A bigger issue on the national level, in my opinion, was the reactivation of an unsafe nuclear plant in Chalk River, Ontario. The government pressed for the re-opening of the Chalk River plant citing that the levels of a particular medical isotope produced there were dangerously low and putting people's lives at risk. The plant had been shut down because radiation levels were unsafe and workers were showing signs of contamination. The recently fired CNSC president, Linda Keen was fired by the Tories for reported "partisanship" and down played the safety hazard posed by restaring the Chalk River plant. Turns out Ms. Keen was quite correct to take her stand against restarting as the risks were 1000 times higher than what is acceptable by international standards.
The government stated that lives would be lost if the Chalk River plant did not resume production immediately. All parties clucked their tongues, stood by as Ms. Keen was fired and then voted in favour of restarting the plant. After the fact it has been posited that the government may have overplayed the medical crisis from the start. New Scientist apparently posits that Canada has set a bad example within the international community taking the actions it has.
But of course nuclear safely is nowhere as important enough to bring down a government... no.