Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Bloc is not blocking

Although the current Conservative government is in a minority, it's not. What we are seeing here is a similar coalition to what Mulroney had in the 80's.

So far, Duceppe and co. have supported the Conservatives at every turn, knowing full well that if they didn't an election would be called. The Bloc holds the balance of power, but they do not seem interested in abusing that power nor do they threaten to use it in media grandstanding, unlike the other parties. The Liberals know that this coalition is working and so they oppose for the sake of opposing.

Looking at the major Conservative kept promises, the Bloc, in supporting them, have basically formed the old de-facto Quebec wing of the Tories and thus moved away from their supposed left-centre socio-economic policies to the centre-right policies of the Tories.

Issues the Bloc have supported:

  • 2006 budget which included GST cut, $100/month child-care allowance, boost for military, and other items
  • softwood lumber
  • Afghan mission

Support for the Afghan mission and boost for the military is interesting, being that many Quebeckers haven't been nor currently are interested in war and the military. No one is calling for conscription, so Duceppe can continue to go along with Harper.

The main reason is that both soft and hard separatists don't like federal centralization--same with many Albertans and British Columbians. With the equalization issue, Harper and Flaherty have appeased those who'd normally give soft-support to the Bloc, so the Bloc doesn't have a bone-of-contention with that. Basically, both parties are both vying for these Quebec votes.

So I believe Harper can look to Duceppe for continued support. It could even be said that on other issues, Harper prefers this situation which has made him appear as more of a moderate rather than what he was formally and incorrectly labelled as "scary".

The next budget will be telling, but I believe the Bloc will support it, meaning we can expect to be in this majority coalition for some time and although I hear rumours within the party that an election is brewing for Spring 2007, I just don't see that happening.

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