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Quick Hits, Volume XLIX -- Election 2006, Harper Now Leads

Readers directed here from The Torontoist may be interested to know that I think Tony Ianno particularly deserves criticism for his role in creating and supporting the Toronto Port Authority.

Harper is now leading, and some people are going to start freaking out... Most dangerously, NDP voters.

To be honest, I am eager for a change of government but simultaneously know that there are at least some reasons to be concerned about a Harper administration.

Nevertheless I still intend to keep my vote with Jack Layton, and my hopes for a decline in Liberal seats. I am willing to take my chances with a new government, even though that means a (minority) Stephen Harper government. I guess I want a change that badly.

Martin has tried to pull Stephen Harper down by comparisons to Mike Harris. Obviously he means to scare Liberals-leaning-Conservative in Ontario, but also Liberals-leaning-NDP.

Harper has fought back by pointing out Martin's record in that same era. Fair enough. But personally, I have always seen a great distinction between the two.

Martin cut transfers and spending enough to reverse our deficit. Harris cut enough to absorb transfer reductions and our provincial deficit, then kept cutting to reduce taxes multiple times. He also cut ministries beyond what he was advised would be sustainable and cut services despite widespread warnings of the problems that might ensue... many of which came true. And, while Martin solidly balanced budgets with prudence and debt repayment, Harris had to rely on tricks like selling assets.

To be sure, I would be disturbed if I knew a Harper government would bring a Harris agenda. But, I'm partly relieved by the knowledge that any Harper government would need to work with other parties in a minority situation.

As well, Stephen Harper hasn't been making promises that are analagous to Harris' campaign.

Ian Welsh's concern (and Jack Layton's) is that Harper has an agenda to decentralize the country, and will be supported by the Bloc Quebecois. One concern is that have-not provinces will suffer severely as a result. I support a strong central Canadian government.

Nevertheless, I wonder what Harper would really be able to acheive. Both he and the BQ talk about fiscal imbalance and transfering tax points to the provinces. On the surface they are in agreement. But I wonder if they don't actually have different remedies in mind. Consider Duceppe's reaction to Harper's GST cut, for example.

Many have criticized Paul Martin for his redefinition of the Quebec portion of this race as the preliminary round of a new referendum battle. When I read his recent comments in Winnipeg, I saw what they meant:

If you support the Bloc, on the night of January 23rd Gilles Duceppe will grab hold of your ballot. He will wave it high. He will claim that, by voting for him, you have given him the mandate to seal his pact with André Boisclair and begin the process leading to a third referendum.

This seems to be unnecessary and alarmist, while also threatening to give sovereignty a boost when the Bloc does well.

It sounds like Martin is making promises and proposals to attract NDP voters as he falls behind. It is funny how the best times for the left might be when the Conservative Party is strong enough that it threatens to form a government.

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