Thursday, December 18, 2008

Changing the seating potential may provide a majority. But for which party?

While the economy is supposed to be the number one issue of the day for the government of the day, political self preservation seems to be sharing more than a fair amount of time in the thoughts of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

First came the proroguing of Parliament, an administrative device that has delayed by over six weeks the threat of a confidence vote in the House and the sudden end of the Conservative’s holding of the trappings of government.

While the Prime Minister has sent Jim Flaherty back to his office to sharpen the pencils and redesign the financial blue print destined for late January, laden as it will be with supportive financing for near and far, the push is on to line up the political stars for the future, perhaps the very near future.

First there was the surprise reversal of previous thoughts on the Senate, gone for now and perhaps for a while is the prospect of an Upper Chamber responsible to the Canadian electorate, the old dreams of a Triple E senate, or even the recent Alberta initiatives of recommending elected Senate candidates dropped for political expediency.

Instead, like generations of Prime Ministers before, the Senate will soon be stocked with the faithful of the party, with 18 seats to be filled by the strategy that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney once so eloquently explained as until we “can't find a single living, breathing Tory to appoint”.
The stacking of the Senate with faithful Conservatives, would make for a move designed to scale back the overwhelming patronage of past Liberal regimes dating back at least to the nineteen fifties.
If there are going to be any turf wars to come in the Senate over proposed Conservative legislation, then Harper is going to make sure that there are enough Conservatives to carry the torch in the Senate. Not to mention the fact that Mr. Harper will at least have taken care of the long cherished principle of taking care of the party, should he be usurped from power by the newly crowned Liberal leader Michael Ingatieff in the month to come.

Perhaps in a bid to avoid that unfortunate turn of events for the Conservatives, the Prime Minister has decided that Dalton McGuinty is no longer “the small man of Confederation” and instead reading the political polls with the sharp eyes of a tax accountant he’s decided that Ontario suddenly is worthy of 21 additional seats, 21 potential Conservative seats depending on where they are placed in the province.

It’s widely expected that the bulk of the new ridings to be created in Ontario will be found outside of the City of Toronto, with boundaries redrawn and created more than likely in the much treasured 905 voting block a vast diaspora of potential voters apparently just waiting for a politician to knock on their doors.

The sudden increase in the chairs for the House of Commons, could result in a win fall of votes that could translate into a majority come the next election.

While there will be grumbles in Alberta and British Columbia two provinces that surely deserve a larger share of the seating plan in the House of Commons owing to their growing population, they will most likely have to wait a little bit longer for their chance to redraw the electoral map.

Whether the Prime Ministers stumbles out of the gate of his current mandate (such as it is) will resonate in all those new ridings will remain to be seen, but with Quebec now all but a right off and the West surely still as strong for the conservative brand after the coalition’s less than savory rumblings of late, Ontario is truly to be the next battleground whenever the next election will be called.
With that in mind, the plan to add seats in that province is being hailed as a great idea by the Ontario based media, subscribing to the theory we guess that what is good for Ontario, is surely good for the country! Right?
The reaction in the outer regions of the centre of the universe however we suspect will be a little less enthusiastic at the prospect of 21 more votes in the House of Commons reflecting an Ontario perspective.

Looking for sliver linings if we must, if nothing else, we can take heart with the thought that at least the Conservatives can count and read a map ( a political one anyways), having pulled out the abacus and an electoral map and determined where they might just gain those necessary votes to gain that elusive majority.

Though frankly, we’re not sure that the Canadian population is going to be welcoming the addition of 21 entitled members of parliament with their generous salaries and benefits, not to mention all the extra expenses and staffing requirements that will come with the expansion of governmental process.

It’s a move that will be looked with a raised eyebrow or two, especially when coloured in the prism of declining employment prospects and financial troubles for those that cast a vote. The timing of it all seems rather off and a project that seems ripe for a rather nasty backlash.

Political survival seemingly trumps all the old beliefs, perhaps to be deferred to a later date, perhaps to be revisited by a different leader if things don’t work out according to the latest political blue print.

Globe and Mail-- Harper to bend on House seats for Ontario, McGuinty says
Globe and Mail-- Sitting and standing and seats
Globe and Mail-- Will Iggy and Layton support rep-by-pop?
National Post-- Harper agrees to give Ontario 21 more seats in House
National Post-- Ontario sees boost in house
Toronto Star-- Is Harper finally Ontario's friend?

No comments: