Is The Young and the Restless making you feel old and sleepy? Not enough melodrama in Days of our Lives? Then you should try paying attention to Canadian politics. Except for the sex, alien abductions, and attractive young people, it might as well be a soap opera. Consider the following.
Michael Ignatieff, the suave man-of-the-world, is trying to evict Stephen Harper from his House (of Commons) or at least from the prime minister’s chair. He’s even gone so far to file a no-confidence bill in the House that would force Harper and his government to step aside. It won’t pass, though, because of the prime minister’s deal with Jack Layton. The NDP leader wants to see more money go to the unemployed and doesn’t want to jeopardize his party’s place in the house with an election. Thus, he’s going to do something he’s never done before: enter into a marriage of convenience with the Tories, at least for the fall.
Getting back to Iggy, it’s not as if his relationship with his own party is flying smoothly right now. He recently got in a fight with his Quebec lieutenant, Denis Coderre, over whether returned-from-the-(political-)dead Martin Cauchon could run in the Montreal riding of Outrement over Coderre’s handpicked candidate, Nathalie Le Prohon. Though Ignatieff initially appointed Le Prohon to run in Outrement, he eventually caved into pressure from other MPs and arranged for her to run in a neighbouring riding, clearing the way for the Chretien-era cabinet minister to win the nomination. As a result, Coderre quit as Iggy’s Quebec lieutenant and defense critic, claiming that the party’s Quebec strategies are controlled by a bunch of shady folks from Toronto (link goes to bios of said shady people). That Coderre is considering running for Iggy’s job should he go down in electoral flames only adds to the intrigue.
In a side plot, it seems like few if any Liberal MPs really know what Iggy is doing with anything, which may cause a few more problems later on.
Where was Stephen Harper doing this whole, torrid affair? He was flirting with voters in Saint John, boasting about his rather large economic stimulus plan. This despite the fact that the Liberals say that only a small part of the stimulus actually works and Andrew Coyne says the economy never needed that little blue stimulus to begin with (comments on the double entendres welcome below). Columnists like Jeffrey Simpson think (with cause) that Harper wants an election, considering the weakness of the other parties. Obviously, Harper cannot openly court an election or risk being spurned by the voters, but considering he’s already preparing “poison pills” for this Parliament, it’s clear to see that this Parliament’s days are numbered.
Adding to the tension in Saint John came word that several local Liberals, including two Port City MLAs, had trouble getting into the prime minister’s announcement. This is just another sign of the crumbling relationship between the federal (Conservative) and New Brunswick (Liberal) governments. Harper didn’t help that situation by basically refusing the province’s request to pay the entire cost of delays to the Point Lepreau Nuclear Plant refurbishment, now 16 months behind schedule. AECL, a federal Crown corporation, is in charge of the project, which is costing NB Power (and, by extension, New Brunswick taxpayers, ratepayers, renters, etc.) about $1-million in replacement power.
So, will Harper and the New Brunswick government kiss and make up, or will he leave it with a middle finger and broken dreams? Will the Liberals get their dirty laundry off the line before the writ drops? Will the NDP keep up its sham of a marriage with the Conservatives? And has anyone heard of the TV show I’m referencing in my title? These questions – any many others – will be answered later throughout this fall on the Political Animal.