So the people, or at least 61.4% of the people, have spoken, and we have a new government. The Stephan Harper government now has a majority, and is in a much better position to make that claim. So are all the hand wringers on the left who are terrified of a Conservative majority going to be proven right? Is Harper & gang going to criminalize abortion, eliminate gay rights, gun control, and slash social spending? Is the Canadian government going to take a massive right turn?
Not likely. While traditionally the smart tactic would be to spring any surprises on the electorate quickly, so that you would have three yeas for people to forget, smart politicians have taken note of what happened in BC with the HST debacle, and Harper is not a dumb politician.
“I’ve learned Canadian’s don’t like surprises.”
Harper’s words bring some heady wisdom to the debate. The liberals in BC have taken a pounding over their decision to spring the harmonized sales tax on BC residents with no warning directly after an election. In today’s electronic age, it doesn’t take much to organize an opposition, and the increasingly lazing Canadian voters got fired up over this one. I won’t go into the referendum and the spectacle going on around it, but suffice it to say, Canadians can get motivated if the right buttons are pushed. Just look at the OpenMedia.ca debate on internet access.
Expect to see much of the same with less acrimony tossed around parliament hill. It would be a serious surprise if the Conservatives decided to do anything they hadn’t already pledged to do in the election. I think after the spending orgy by the PM in the past several years, a reduction of government spending is in order, and balancing the books will definitely be a priority of this government. But big social changes like marriage rights, or abortion will be left alone. Even with a defeated Liberal party in the process of rebuilding, Harper realizes his majority is on a short leash. If in four years Canadians are unhappy with what he’s been up to, it could be his party on the outside looking in, though for now, that seems unlikely.
The conservatives have shifted more to the centre, leaving their reform policies behind in order to become more palatable to Canadian voters. The fringes of the right might be bristling, but unless they want to split the right again and allow the Liberals back in the game, then they’re best off pushing for smaller changes, and letting Harper’s more “friendly” central views make up the face of the party.
What I don’t expect to see change is the hostile view towards the media. During their time as a minority government, the media was all after the Conservatives over their many blunders. Now that they are burdened with a majority, I don’t expect them to show much care for the media, or the official opposition. If there is one lesson the Conservatives gleamed from this election is that now matter how many screw ups they make, and how much the media goes after them, Canadian’s don’t seem to care. And right now, even if they did, what choice do they have?