The blizzard of news surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden has focused attention away from a general election in Canada. The Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper won a resounding victory. After two minority governments, Harper now has a majority in the House of Commons. He can implement his policies without the support of other parties in Parliament. The Liberal Party, the opposition party, the party of Trudeau, the party that governed Canada for most of the last twenty years, melted into a weak third party. Bloc Quebec, the Francophone separatist party which for decades was the dominant force in Quebec, shrank from 49 seats in the last Parliament to only 4 seats now. Layton’s New Democratic Party became the formal opposition party and it made most of its gains in Quebec where it replaced Bloc Quebec.
What does this mean? Future Canadian elections may, themselves, be different. Harper has promised to end government subsidies to political parties; the Liberal Party, which has trouble raising campaign funds, may find it hard to survive relying on voluntary contributions. Conservatives may also change the apportionment seats in the House of Commons. At present the system denies the western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia an equal share of seats in the House of Commons. Harper might also seek reform of the Canadian Senate, which is obstructionist and undemocratic. Conservatives now have a narrow majority in the Senate (and a majority in the House of Commons), which is just enough clout to reform the upper chamber. (It helps that Layton of the New Democratic Party actually wants to abolish the Senate, and he is now Leader of the Opposition.)
The practical demise of Bloc Quebec may mean an end to separatist movements in Western Canada. Bloc Quebec was constructed around Francophone unhappiness. In response, the western provinces, most notably Alberta, resented Quebec and the “transfer payments” which took money from those productive provinces and gave money to Quebec (and other parts of Canada.) Harper has pledged to protect the interests of the western provinces. Ideally, Harper will promote the confederate nature of the Canadian nation. Canadians have just voted to remain a single nation, and best way to preserve that spirit is robust protection of provincial rights.
The domestic policies of the new, strong Conservative government will increase production of Canadian oil. Harper, the son of an Albertan oil company executive, understands the combination of exploration risk and fluctuating market prices which make the petroleum industry a “boom or bust” activity. Harper’s government will increase tax incentives for oil production, prevent nutty environmentalism, and allow the unrestricted export of oil (all of which will push prices and production to honest market levels.) Less noticed but also important, Harper’s Conservatives will abolish the Canadian Wheat Board, a state monopoly which artificially keeps the price of wheat and barley high. Harper will allow market forces to set the price and production of the vast wheat fields of the Prairie Provinces. Harper has promised to reduce the corporate tax rate and sale tax rates and enact budgets which support a strong Canadian Dollar. All of these actions will keep Canada a stable and prosperous nation, which is in our national interest.
Canada under Harper has been a supporter of American foreign policy. Harper, particularly, supports the State of Israel and has been an outspoken opponent of anti-Semitism. The big election victory of Harper, along with the death of Osama bin Laden, is a double whammy for radical Islam. How serious is Harper about these issues? Recall that a few months after Harper took office, radical Islamists concocted a plot to decapitate Harper. He was, quite properly, viewed as a major enemy of their evil aims.
There is a downside to Harper. Although he is a social conservative, Harper will not fight battles for social conservatism in Canada. He will not even try to end abortion on demand in Canada. He declared “closed” in December 2006, after a brief attempt to restrict gay marriage. While abortion and gay marriage are important to social conservatives, they face a threat to their very right to speak in Canada, and other nations, because of that semantic Frankenstein, “Hate Crimes.” A nasty and, itself, hateful application of those nebulous laws allow the Left in many nations to simply defined expression it dislikes as hateful and make that expression criminal. Canada, the Left there proudly boasts, does not have a First Amendment and that honestly held, even factually correct, expression can be punished because it offends certain people.
That means a mullah in a mosque can say “Death to Jews and Christians!” with impunity but that a Jew or Christian who reports “Mullahs are calling for the death of Jews and Christians” can be guilty of a “Hate Crime.” The threat to liberty from the totalitarian Left in Canada and Europe is serious stuff: just ask Ann Coulter or Mark Steyn or Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who is on trial for criticizing Islam and whose innocence cannot be established by proving that what he said was true. If Harper wants to do preserve Canada, he must fight Leftist censorship there. If he wages that battle and wins, then his big victory election means much to Canada and to the world, but if Harper ignores the drift of Canada towards totalitarianism, then all else he does will mean nothing. No one should doubt the ferocity of those dragons which Harper must slay to save the soul of Canada, but no one should doubt that the salvation of Canada from that evil is worth brave battle and much sacrifice.