Reaction Roundup: before the writs drop, what’s the country thinking about an election?
Canada is all but certainly on the way to an election—the opposition parties have rejected the Conservative budget, and the Conservatives say they’ll accept no amendments—but it’s not quite official yet. So the national press is stuck in limbo, picking over the dead letter that was the Conservative budget and trying to start gaming out the opening moves of the 41st Canadian general election, or “Christmas in April,” as political nerds are calling it—or is it just us? Here, a roundup of some of the notable reactions to the budget, its demise and the election we’re barrelling toward.
• The consensus, if there is one, is that the budget is an election platform with a dollar sign in front of it. The Globe and Mail gives its entire front page over to that notion, and it’s hard to disagree: most of the items in the budget amount to talking points, so that when Conservative candidates are challenged on, say, their record on cities, they can respond, “We made gas tax funding permanent in the budget that you voted against” (the Conservatives can finish with “hippie,” if they prefer). Yet nowhere in the budget was there anything more than penny ante stuff, basically just to list rhetorical markers for a possible election.
• The Conservatives were willing to try avoiding an election—just not very hard. Andrew Potter at Canadian Business calls it “A budget geared for no one, offering nothing.” The flip side is that the NDP got this glowing review from the Post’s John Ivison: “The NDP are whores. But they’re not cheap whores.”
• There was, actually, some substance to the budget—it just didn’t survive to the headlines (or to the dinner hour). In a video posted on Macleans.ca Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne discuss the budget, and before getting to the electoral implications, Wells makes an excellent point: at least in the later years of this five-year plan, the idea was to push more and more money and power out of Ottawa to the provinces. It’s just about the most small-C conservative thing anyone can say about a budget that strives for the status quo.
• Anyone living in Toronto, or any city in Canada, didn’t actually get much in this budget. John Lorinc writes in Spacing that Toronto got “bupkis,” but he is more worried that mayor Rob Ford doesn’t seem to care. Flying the banner for cities is Naheed Nenshi, who says, “My hopes were high but my expectations were low. So my expectations were met.” And Ontario’s finance minister Dwight Duncan says Ontario got “absolutely nothing.”
• Of course, shortly after Coyne and Wells shot that video in the budget lock-up, the entire thing became a non-issue as Jack Layton announced the NDP would not be supporting the budget anyway. For Ottawa Twitter-watchers, this marked the end of the #team2011 versus #team2012 feud (each #team had different predictions for the date of the next election). Coyne and Wells were two of the most prominent members of #team2012, and seeing as this all went down after they emerged from the budget lock-up, they got to enjoy their hopes for an election-free 2011 dashed live on TV. Both attempted some face-saving, but we think a fitting epitaph to #team2012 was Coyne’s “Oh, I’m not even persuading myself anymore.” Hey, boys, buck up. With all these minority governments, there’s no reason that we can’t have an election in both 2011 and 2012.
• Federal budget fails province: Dwight Duncan [CTV.ca]
• The election hinges on one guy – Michael Ignatieff [Globe and Mail]
• Lornic: Nada, zilch, bupkis from the Fords [Spacing]
• Opinion: A budget geared for no one, offering nothing [Canadian Business]
• Coyne v. Wells on the budget [Macleans.ca]