"God Bless Canada"
Used to have a country but they sold it down the river
Like a repossessed farm auctioned off to the highest bidder - Bruce Cockburn
I'm still finding my post-election legs here. (That was a long night, and a tall bottle.) So forgive a little more indulgent Canadiana, and consider this a place-holder until I can get it together for a proper post.
Now, about what the hell is going on up here.
The Conservatives have formed a "safe" government on a short leash, that in the long term may prove the most disastrous outcome. Their weak minority will force them, if they're smart (and they are, now) to moderate their agenda; actually bringing it more into line with the centrist cooings Stephen Harper was making during the campaign. Breathing space for everyone, but it just means we're in a pot that's being brought to a boil. Some won't notice until they smell the garlic butter.
Canadian minority governments typically survive about 18 months. This provides a perfect window for our increasingly aggressive corporatist media to burnish Harper's image, and for voters to feel the slight benefit of tax cuts without yet feeling the pain of cuts to social services. (And of course this is how Canadian social services will be gutted. The Conservatives must say the right thing - that they will defend public healthcare, employment insurance and the rest - all the while doing the wrong thing by emptying the Treasury. Then, well, their hands will be tied: just the way they like it.)
The Conservatives will need to broker deals with one of the three parties to their left, but that may not be as difficult as it appears. Though the Bloc Quebecois has a progressive platform it has also strong nativist elements to which Harper's vision of a devolved federal state will easily appeal. (A note about the Green Party, which won no seats but took 4% of the vote. Our Greens have become a stalking horse of the Right, led by a former Conservative and his team, which exists now only to siphon naive votes away from Left candidates in close races.)
Something else to expect during the minority tenure is Harper's drawing a target on Canada's back and then claiming it is only the Conservatives who are "strong on security." This could be precipitated by a world event (say, the forthcoming and potentially unconventional attack on Iran), Harper's hellbent march into the endless "war on terror," followed closely by a Bali bombing-like, this time it's personal attack on a soft Canadian target. If it sounds like something out of John Howard's playbook, it is. Howard's national campaign director, Brian Loughnane, is also advising the Canadian Conservatives.
(Incidentally the Liberals, like Liberals do, tried to have it both ways in power by making a rhetorical flourish of sitting out Iraq while quietly bloodying Canada's hands in Haiti by participating in the criminal abduction of Aristide and the crushing of Lavalas.)
It's interesting to note that, the weekend before the election, 60 Minutes gushed over the environmental catastrophe - and economic fallacy - of Alberta's oil sands: "the reserves are so vast in the province of Alberta that they will help solve America’s energy needs for the next century.... Within a few years, the oil sands are likely to become more important to the United States than all the oil that comes to us from Saudi Arabia."
How propitious, then, that a right-wing Albertan who closes his speeches with the strangely uncanadian "God Bless Canada" has just been elected Prime Minister.