"Hit Me Baby One More Time"

It’s deja vu all over again (I kid, kid. The proper phrase is ‘deja vu.’ Period)!

Like every other political commentator in the country, today certainly felt like last fall when we heard the Conservatives’ last throne speech. And this one was just like it.

But first, I’ve got to ask. Who the hell is ‘Divine Providence?’ I ask because the last line of the Speech from the Throne goes like this:

Honourable Members of the Senate, Members of the House of Commons: As you unite in common effort and in common cause, may Divine Providence be your guide and inspiration.

If the Conservatives are asking that God suddenly send lightning bolts to light the light bulbs on top of its MPs’ heads, well, it’s a little late for that. And besides, God tells us to take responsibility for our actions and ask forgiveness, to learn from our mistakes. Harper has not done that (see December interview with Harper where he says proroguement was the fault of a ‘conspiracy’ against his government).

A few points other points about the Throne Speech:

  • Let me add my agreement to the point Adam Radwanski makes here. The rhetoric of the Harper government is just a tad overdone.

Here’s the fifth paragraph of the Throne Speech:

Your predecessors, too, were summoned to this chamber at times of great crisis: as Canada struggled to claim her independence, in the shadow of war, during the depth of the Great Depression and at moments when great policy division tugged the very bonds of this union.

Cue the patriotism and Obama-like messaging. This financial crisis, while bad and devastating to our economy cannot be compared to World Wars I and II, constitutional crises and the 1995 Quebec Referendum. End of story.

  • I LOVE all the mentions of “open and non-partisan cooperation,” and “working together.” Sounds like Harper’s response to the LAST Throne Speech, where he said,

All Members of Parliament should resolve to put aside clearly partisan considerations and try, wherever possible, to work co-operatively for the benefit of Canada.

And we all know how that worked out.

  • My FAVOURITE lines of the Throne Speech were these ones:

Our Government approached the dialogue in a spirit of open and non-partisan cooperation. There is no monopoly on good ideas because we face this crisis together. There can be no pride of authorship—only the satisfaction of identifying solutions that will work for all Canadians.

But then the Throne Speech goes on to mention the things ‘Our Government’ has done, let’s see, 1, 2, 3…16 times. ‘Monopoly,’ indeed.

But, whatever. We all know the ‘real game’ begins tomorrow.

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What about all of those ‘unprecedented’ budget leaks? Normally the printing of the budget is under strict surveillance, and apparently it is this time as well – not that they really need to do it.

I don’t really care that the Conservatives leaked the budget. If I were Harper, I’d have leaked the $34 billion this year/$30 billion next year figure over the weekend, too. It’s just smart political strategy.

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I was watching Newsworld this afternoon (surprise, surprise) when a couple of pundits began to talk about what the Liberal reponse might be. While I’m 95% sure they’ll pass the budget, there is one thing the pundits brought up that I hadn’t considered.

There’s no way in hell Harper is going to unveil what he would consider to be an almost ‘communist’ budget (can’t you see him at his desk, mumbling to himself about it?) without sticking something in it to make the newly-minted Leader of the Opposition have to backtrack. And that something is going to be tax cuts.

That’s why we haven’t heard about the tax cuts that are more certainly going to be a part of the budget. Permanent tax cuts. Harper is still playing political games when Canadians are losing their jobs. Nicely done, Steve.

Why is this a big deal? Because Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has stated, unequivocally, that tax cuts are not an option.

I’m betting that Harper is still mighty pissed about having to go to the Governor General and beg for his political life. He’s going to try and make Ignatieff look like a fool and force him into going against his word.

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The best thing that could happen this week would be for the NDP and the Bloc to vote, along with the Liberals, to approve the budget. Harper is expecting the NDP and the Bloc to vote against it, which he would then use against them in future election ads (you know he’d want to). I can see the leader’s debate now, “But Jack, your government voted AGAINST tax cuts for Canadians!”

The NDP and the Bloc have to be very careful. Voting against a budget that purports to benefit all Canadians could be a form of political suicide.

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We’ve heard the phrase “I don’t trust the this government” over and over the past number of weeks. And we’re going to hear it under the next election.

Today a poll was released which shows that 44% of Canadians “put faith in Harper Tories to manage [the] economy.”

Really? After all of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde stuff of the last Parliament? I guess it’s true. For a lot of Canadians right now, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.

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On a positive note: it would seem that there’s trouble in them Conservative backbenches.

Seems some Harper-ites a more than a little perturbed because of their dear leader’s actions as of late.

Tom Flanagan, Steve’s former BFF spoke to the Toronto Star and offered some insight into our PM.

Tom Flanagan, a former Harper campaign organizer and strategist, said Harper has transformed from a conservative ideologue to a political survivor, but remains a victim of his own dark side. “Both sides are real … but what you see more and more is the political Harper,” said Flanagan, author of the acclaimed Harper’s Team: Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power.

Flanagan said the “Machiavellian” side is far more troubling than his political transformation, given that it almost cost him his government. “He lost the initiative by provoking the other parties into this potential coalition against him … and now he finds himself having to put together a budget which is really a coalition budget … the government’s hand is fairly weak right now.”

I say Harper gets one more election. If he can’t deliver a majority, he’s finished.

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I could not end this without mentioning the insane and about-to-be-impeached Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. Today he began a massive media blitz to try and win the sympathy of Americans outside of his home state.

Here he is comparing himself to Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Absolute insanity.

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