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Conservatives win in Canada

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/CanadaVotes/2006/01/23/1408332-cp.html Harper expected to move fast By BRUCE CHEADLE OTTAWA (CP) - The question that
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 23, 2006
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      http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/CanadaVotes/2006/01/23/1408332-cp.html

      Harper expected to move fast
      By BRUCE CHEADLE

      OTTAWA (CP) - The question that Liberals asked, so
      ineffectually, during an eight-week election campaign
      suddenly is now pertinent to every Canadian.

      Change, yes. But change to what? Stephen Harper's
      minority Conservative victory has swept the House of
      Commons of 12 years of Liberal rule grown musty, but
      how much more than a parliamentary real estate swap
      has taken place?

      Not as much as the more dire prognosticators would
      have us believe, but probably more than many Canadians
      realize.

      "I wouldn't interpret it as a sea change in the
      culture of the country," said Richard Johnston, a
      political scientist at the University of British
      Columbia.

      "(But) putting the Conservatives in power does allow
      them to start moving around certain policy levers,
      which could recreate the culture, at least in some
      respects."

      Booting out Canada's longer-term residents of 24
      Sussex Drive has traditionally been about settling old
      accounts - at least as much as embracing some bold new
      vision of the country.

      How else to explain the surge in NDP fortunes, even as
      the government was swinging to the right?

      Quebec federalists appeared to move holus-bolus to the
      Tories in the dying days of the campaign, yet few
      analysts would put Quebeckers in Harper's libertarian
      conservative camp.

      Harper may have won over Canadians with his
      policy-a-day campaign platform, the better to define
      himself before the Liberal mudslide. But Harper wisely
      distilled his list of governing priorities to five key
      elements.

      "In an era of diminished expectations in the public
      mind about governments, they don't want to be promised
      everything," said Paul Thomas of the University of
      Manitoba.

      "They want to be promised some things you'll
      realistically deliver."

      The Conservatives' avowed first order of business is a
      government accountability act. A reduction in the GST,
      and tougher crime legislation and support for the
      police and military, are likely next up - elements of
      the Tory platform that few in a minority Parliament
      will be able to contest.

      Goldy Hyder, a Conservative strategist, said the party
      will publicly define its mandate and repeatedly remind
      Canadians: "This is what we planned on doing. This is
      what we're doing. And you agreed."

      "You've got to say it again and again."

      So what are these levers that might alter Canada's
      political culture?

      The Tory accountability act also could have a
      far-reaching impacts on how government and political
      parties work. For example, if the Tories are actually
      serious about reducing the patronage power of the
      prime minister - an interesting question given the
      boneyard of broken patronage promises throughout
      Confederation - the power shift in Parliament will be
      immense.

      Cutting the GST means sharply reducing federal
      revenues, and spending leverage.

      Axing the Liberal national daycare plan in favour of
      direct subsidies to parents is a philosophical shift
      that a strong plurality of voters embraced, according
      to exit polls Monday by Decima Research.

      But active policy isn't the only government influence.
      Passive changes, such as allowing provinces more
      latitude in health delivery, can have fundamental
      implications.

      Johnston expects Harper to move fast.

      "From the start, the Conservatives will be calculating
      their advantages," said the B.C. academic.

      "The history of minority governments - particularly
      when the minority government is transitioning toward
      majority - has been to go fairly quickly and hope that
      whatever surprise value there was in their victory
      starts loosening other connections."

      If this change of government makes Canadians uneasy,
      it would appear the electorate has once again managed
      to find the solution.

      The New Democrats have been boosted as a sharp
      counter-point to the conservative shift.

      And the minority Tory government should serve the
      purposes of both skittish voters and the incoming
      victors themselves.

      "It probably will help (being) in a minority
      government situation," said Peter Aucoin, a professor
      of public administration at Dalhousie University in
      Halifax.

      "It dampens expectations and keeps them more on
      electoral alert."

      Just don't think that nothing's changed as a result of
      Monday's vote.
    • Ram Lau
      The trend of Canadian politics lags the US and the UK directions. This is at least true in recent history (since the Cold War era). Ram
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 24, 2006
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        The trend of Canadian politics lags the US and the UK directions. This
        is at least true in recent history (since the Cold War era).

        Ram
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