October 28, 2008

 

Now we're setting the example...

From: The National Review Online
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTZlNTNkNDk1ZDNkODJlNzg4Y2UwMjM3ZDA4ZjkyOTc

Neighborly Wisdom: An end can be a beginning.
By: Sean J. Miller
October 27, 2008

"We’re looking at a disaster in November," predicts Rep. Jim Ramstad (R., Minn.), who’s retiring this year. “I’ve seen the predictions. I’ve seen the polls. I can only conclude it’s going to be a tsunami.”

What do you do after a major storm? Rebuild. To do so, Republicans might look to their own past for guidance: In the 1974 midterm election, the GOP lost 49 seats in the House and four in the Senate. It was a long road back.

Or, they could ditch the time machine and look north to Canada, where the Conservative party recently picked up 16 seats in the country’s federal election. After suffering a string of electoral defeats in the last decade, the Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper are now in the ascendency, having won back-to-back elections.

“The Conservative party comeback was not only historic, but probably ranks up there with the Republican party’s comeback after Watergate,” says Christopher Sands, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington who studies Canadian politics.

Fifteen years ago this month, the ruling Progressive Conservative party, as it was known then, lost all but two of its 151 seats in Canada’s House of Commons. Holding so few seats, they lost their “official party status.” The defeat effectively splintered conservatives into two parties, both of which failed to compete with the dominant Liberals. In the political wilderness, they experimented with a mix of issues, slogans, even party names.

In 2004, conservatives reemerged as a single party which emphasized economic issues over social ones. They became a broader, more popular coalition, Sands says. “They talked about lowering taxes, good fiscal management... They were willing to talk about crime.”

Under Canada’s political system, each party selects a leader before the elections, and the leader of the party that wins the most seats in the House becomes prime minister. After Harper became the leader of the rebranded Conservative party four years ago, he promised a more open, democratic government. “He tried to position himself in a way that he was close to the public - he wasn’t an elite conservative,” Sands says.

In January 2006 Harper’s Conservatives won control of the House of Commons, ending more than a decade of Liberal-party rule. On October 14, Canadians quietly went to the polls and renewed his mandate. The Conservatives now hold 143 seats in the 308-seat House. The Liberal opposition has been reduced to 76.

In some ways, Republicans are moving in the same direction as their northern counterparts. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R.), once a contender for John McCain’s vice-presidential nod, is fond of talking about “Sam’s Club Republicans” and modernizing government. He told an audience at the National Press Club in August, “You have to have ideas that are relevant for these times.”

Representative Ramstad agrees. “Republicans need to get back to governing from the center,” he says. “We Republicans need to get away from the addiction to base politics. Karl Rove’s playbook isn’t working anymore.”

This means emphasizing social issues less and jobs more, Ramstad adds.

But Donald Devine, vice chairman of the American Conservative Union, sees things another way: “The moderates are always saying you need to build a new coalition.”

Devine agrees the GOP will have to rebuild after this cycle, but thinks “you have to start with the base and straighten that out before you go out and bring new people in.”

Moving to the center “means you’re moving closer to the other side,” Devine says. “I don’t think that’s where our problem is - we don’t have any answers on the economy and the war. To claim that we’ve been too far to the right is nuts.”

There’s little disagreement about how the Republican party will look on the morning of November 5 - it’ll be smaller. And those left in office will have to decide whether to chart a northern course.

Sean J. Miller writes for National Journal and nationaljournal.com. He also blogs for The Hotline’s “On Call.”

Copyright 2008 - The National Review Online

 

Important points to ponder...

From: The Wall Street Journal

The Dangers of a Diminished America: In the 1930s, isolationism and protectionism spurred the rise of fascism.
By:
AARON FRIEDBERG and GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
OCTOBER 21, 2008

With the global financial system in serious trouble, is America's geostrategic dominance likely to diminish? If so, what would that mean?

One immediate implication of the crisis that began on Wall Street and spread across the world is that the primary instruments of U.S. foreign policy will be crimped. The next president will face an entirely new and adverse fiscal position. Estimates of this year's federal budget deficit already show that it has jumped $237 billion from last year, to $407 billion. With families and businesses hurting, there will be calls for various and expensive domestic relief programs.

In the face of this onrushing river of red ink, both Barack Obama and John McCain have been reluctant to lay out what portions of their programmatic wish list they might defer or delete. Only Joe Biden has suggested a possible reduction - foreign aid. This would be one of the few popular cuts, but in budgetary terms it is a mere grain of sand. Still, Sen. Biden's comment hints at where we may be headed: toward a major reduction in America's world role, and perhaps even a new era of financially-induced isolationism.

Pressures to cut defense spending, and to dodge the cost of waging two wars, already intense before this crisis, are likely to mount. Despite the success of the surge, the war in Iraq remains deeply unpopular. Precipitous withdrawal - attractive to a sizable swath of the electorate before the financial implosion - might well become even more popular with annual war bills running in the hundreds of billions.

Protectionist sentiments are sure to grow stronger as jobs disappear in the coming slowdown. Even before our current woes, calls to save jobs by restricting imports had begun to gather support among many Democrats and some Republicans. In a prolonged recession, gale-force winds of protectionism will blow.

Then there are the dolorous consequences of a potential collapse of the world's financial architecture. For decades now, Americans have enjoyed the advantages of being at the center of that system. The worldwide use of the dollar, and the stability of our economy, among other things, made it easier for us to run huge budget deficits, as we counted on foreigners to pick up the tab by buying dollar-denominated assets as a safe haven. Will this be possible in the future?

Meanwhile, traditional foreign-policy challenges are multiplying. The threat from al Qaeda and Islamic terrorist affiliates has not been extinguished. Iran and North Korea are continuing on their bellicose paths, while Pakistan and Afghanistan are progressing smartly down the road to chaos. Russia's new militancy and China's seemingly relentless rise also give cause for concern.

If America now tries to pull back from the world stage, it will leave a dangerous power vacuum. The stabilizing effects of our presence in Asia, our continuing commitment to Europe, and our position as defender of last resort for Middle East energy sources and supply lines could all be placed at risk.

In such a scenario there are shades of the 1930s, when global trade and finance ground nearly to a halt, the peaceful democracies failed to cooperate, and aggressive powers led by the remorseless fanatics who rose up on the crest of economic disaster exploited their divisions. Today we run the risk that rogue states may choose to become ever more reckless with their nuclear toys, just at our moment of maximum vulnerability.

The aftershocks of the financial crisis will almost certainly rock our principal strategic competitors even harder than they will rock us. The dramatic free fall of the Russian stock market has demonstrated the fragility of a state whose economic performance hinges on high oil prices, now driven down by the global slowdown. China is perhaps even more fragile, its economic growth depending heavily on foreign investment and access to foreign markets. Both will now be constricted, inflicting economic pain and perhaps even sparking unrest in a country where political legitimacy rests on progress in the long march to prosperity.

None of this is good news if the authoritarian leaders of these countries seek to divert attention from internal travails with external adventures.

As for our democratic friends, the present crisis comes when many European nations are struggling to deal with decades of anemic growth, sclerotic governance and an impending demographic crisis. Despite its past dynamism, Japan faces similar challenges. India is still in the early stages of its emergence as a world economic and geopolitical power.

What does this all mean? There is no substitute for America on the world stage. The choice we have before us is between the potentially disastrous effects of disengagement and the stiff price tag of continued American leadership.

Are we up for the task? The American economy has historically demonstrated remarkable resilience. Our market-oriented ideology, entrepreneurial culture, flexible institutions and favorable demographic profile should serve us well in whatever trials lie ahead.

The American people, too, have shown reserves of resolve when properly led. But experience after the Cold War era - poorly articulated and executed policies, divisive domestic debates and rising anti-Americanism in at least some parts of the world - appear to have left these reserves diminished.

A recent survey by the Chicago Council on World Affairs found that 36% of respondents agreed that the U.S. should "stay out of world affairs," the highest number recorded since this question was first asked in 1947. The economic crisis could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

In the past, the American political process has managed to yield up remarkable leaders when they were most needed. As voters go to the polls in the shadow of an impending world crisis, they need to ask themselves which candidate - based upon intellect, courage, past experience and personal testing - is most likely to rise to an occasion as grave as the one we now face.

Mr. Friedberg is a professor of politics and international relations at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School. Mr. Schoenfeld, senior editor of Commentary, is a visiting scholar at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J.

Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal

 

Much work still to do...

From: The Washington Times
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/19/canadas-conservative-resurgence/

Canada's conservative resurgence
By:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Conservatives in Canada have won an impressive election victory. On Tuesday, the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, captured 143 seats in Parliament. This is 12 shy of the 155-seat majority needed - and what Mr. Harper hoped for. Nevertheless, it represents a significant gain of 16 seats for the Tories.

This means that the Conservatives will form a strong minority government. More importantly, under Mr. Harper's leadership, the Tories have become a national political force. They did well in almost every region of Canada.

The only exception was in the French-speaking province of Quebec. Since first elected in January 2006, Mr. Harper has assiduously courted Quebec voters: He speaks good French, symbolically recognized Quebec as a "nation" within Canada, and even gave the province a separate seat at international meetings.

When trying to appease volatile Quebec nationalists, however, no good deed goes unpunished. The separatist Bloc Quebecois Party pounced on government cuts to the province's cultural programs, as well as Mr. Harper's pledge to get tough with juvenile criminals. The result: The Bloc Quebecois won about two-thirds of Quebec's seats, and the Conservatives managed to grab only a handful. Mr. Harper failed to penetrate the nationalist fortress of Quebec - which cost him the governing majority he desperately craves.

The biggest loser, however, was the Liberal Party. It once dominated Canada's electoral landscape. During the 1990s, the Liberals relegated the Tories to the political wilderness. Now, the Liberals have become a shadow of their former selves. They were trounced in their former stronghold of Ontario. Their leader, Stephane Dion, ran on a green platform, which promised to impose a carbon tax. Mr. Harper shrewdly argued that, during a global financial crisis, such tax increases would undermine the economy and plunge the country into a recession. The electorate agreed. The Liberals picked up only 76 seats. Their poor showing means Mr. Dion will face a leadership challenge - probably by spring 2009. Experts predict he will not survive an internal revolt. His days as the party's leader are numbered.

Despite a fractured Liberal opposition, Mr. Harper clearly faces serious challenges. His government will have to contend with an aggressive de facto coalition of leftist parties - the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois, The New Democrat Party, and the Green Party (which won no seats but received over 6 percent of the popular vote). They will block many of his initiatives. Moreover, Mr. Harper will have to manage a growing economic crisis.

Many observers believe the Tories have only about two years before they are forced to call another election. I disagree. Mr. Harper is a brainy technocrat, who possesses an impressive grasp of economic issues. In fact, Republicans would do well to follow Mr. Harper's lead. He is a genuine fiscal conservative, whose record consists of prudent tax cuts, balanced budgets and spending restraint. He is an avid free-trader, who wants closer economic ties with Washington. Also, his government has not been tainted with the kind of corruption scandals that have plagued the GOP in Congress. In short, he is a model of fiscal responsibility and personal probity - the very sort of middle-class conservatism that many Americans hunger for.

Mr. Harper's one major mistake has been to woo Quebec's nationalists. He expended precious political capital in a futile effort. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Quebec separatism is not dead; it is only hibernating, waiting for the opportune moment to rear its ugly head. The nationalist movement is based on mystical romanticism and ethnic tribalism. At its very heart, it is xenophobic, intolerant and irrational. Its goal is not to accommodate Quebec within the larger federal state; rather, it is to destroy Canada. Appeasement will not - cannot - work.

Mr. Harper should end his attempts at an alliance with Quebec nationalists. Instead, he should provide a viable conservative alternative. This means slashing taxes, reducing public spending, reforming the dysfunctional health-care system, forging an independent foreign policy and devolving more power to the provinces. He must put the Canadian national interest above all other regional or ethnic concerns.

For decades, the country's liberal elites have sought to transform Canada into a North American version of Scandinavia - a multicultural social democracy characterized by economic dirigisme, moral permissiveness and a United Nations-first internationalism. The results have been devastating: declining standards of living, crushing levels of taxation, growing lack of national cohesion, sky-rocketing rise in crime in major cities, such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, massive and uncontrolled immigration, the proliferation of family breakdown, pornography and drugs, and the loss of influence and prestige on the world scene.

The Tories under Mr. Harper seek to reverse this downward trend. Slowly, but surely, the Conservatives are consolidating their grip on national power. If they succeed, it will lead to a national rebirth.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times.

Copyright 2008 - The Washington Times

 

A trend is coming!

From: The Washington Times
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/19/canadas-new-conservatism/

EDITORIAL: Canada's new conservatism
Sunday, October 19, 2008


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is proof that fiscal conservatism works. In fact, he almost single-handedly revived the fortunes of a previously fragmented conservative movement. In elections held on Oct. 14, Canada's Conservative Party won a second, consecutive minority government.

Canadian conservatism had its heyday in the 1980s under the leadership of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Yet in 1993 the Conservative Party suffered the worst electoral defeat in Canadian history - consigned to only two seats in the legislature. From the West, a populist Reform Party emerged - a movement that kept the right disunited for a decade. The Liberal Party won successive majorities in 1993, 1997 and 2000. In 2003, at last, the right reunited: With Mr. Harper's leadership, in 2006, his party gained power with a minority government of 124 seats in a 308-member House of Commons. Now, Mr. Harper's Conservatives have 143 seats - just 12 short of the majority they were aiming for.

For America, the triumph of Mr. Harper means that a staunch ally of the war on terror will remain in office. He has extended Canada's mission in Afghanistan and has promised to keep Canadian troops there until 2011. Mr. Harper champions strong national defense and is a fervent advocate for American policies within NATO. His support is also necessary to protect America's northern border from America's enemies. It is reassuring to know that our Canadian neighbors are riding shotgun.

The Conservatives' policy of fiscal restraint is paying dividends. Mr. Harper promised to keep spending and taxes under control - issues on which he has much credibility. He cut the national sales tax, personal taxes and corporate taxes. As a result, Mr. Harper is able to maintain his position while increasing his support-even in the midst of a global meltdown. The World Economic Forum rated Canada's banking system as the strongest in the world. And indeed, a sound Canadian economy is good for America since Canada is our largest trading partner.

The opposition attempted to portray Mr. Harper as a Bush-type conservative - to no avail. Herein lies a lesson for American conservatives: The people know a fiscal conservative when they see one.

Copyright 2008 - The Washington Times

 

An Obama win is bad for trade...

From: The Wall Street Journal

Nafta-Plus: Canada looks to Europe in anticipation of Obama protectionism.
OCTOBER 20, 2008

Barack Obama's promise to unilaterally rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement if Canada and Mexico won't go along with his ideas on labor and the environment has not gone unnoticed in Ottawa. If Canadians are going to have a tougher time selling their goods and services south of the border, who can blame them for looking east - across the Atlantic to Europe.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France signed an agreement Friday to begin negotiations for a free trade pact between Canada and the European Union. A Canada-EU study released last week outlines the joint economic benefits of such a partnership, with two-way trade estimated to increase 22.9% by 2014.

The proposed partnership goes a lot further than Nafta. In addition to allowing free trade in goods and services, it would harmonize regulations, open up the air-travel market, and boost opportunities in government-procurement. Most important, it would free the labor market so that skilled workers could move easily back and forth across the Atlantic.

The free-labor point is key. As recently as half a century ago, Canadians and Americans were pretty much free to work in either country without the visa restrictions that apply today. Under the proposed Canada-EU agreement, a computer geek from, say, the University of Waterloo - one of whose alumni developed the BlackBerry - would be able to take a job in Hamburg or Dublin if he wished; forget about Silicon Valley.

At a news conference on Friday, Mr. Harper said, "We must stand against protectionism and work to lower and eliminate barriers." If Canada and the EU are successful in liberating their economic relationship, we have a question: Can the U.S. join too?

Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal

 

A win for all taxpayers...

From: The Wall Street Journal

Conservative Canada: John McCain, take note.
OCTOBER 16, 2008

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party coasted to an easy victory in national elections on Tuesday, winning 38% of the vote and 143 seats in parliament. Mr. Harper's closest competitor, Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion, managed only 26% of the popular vote for 76 seats.

Though he did not win the 155 seats he needed to secure a majority, Mr. Harper did pick up 16 new members of parliament, while the Liberals lost 19 seats. In other words, in a time of great economic uncertainty, Canadians by a large margin went with the tax cutter over the tax raiser.

Leading another minority government is not what Mr. Harper had in mind when he called this election in September. But it's nonetheless striking that the global financial panic and his response to it - which critics called too casual - didn't take a bigger toll on his party. One reason may be the fact that Mr. Harper has restored Canada's important role in NATO and revived Canadian pride in playing a role on the world stage. Since first taking the Conservatives to a national victory in 2006, he has reversed a pattern of parliamentary neglect of Canada's armed forces and made proper funding for the troops a priority. Rather than flee Afghanistan as Mr. Dion wanted to do, Mr. Harper's Canada is playing a crucial role in the international effort to defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Mr. Harper's first government also cut the national sales tax, personal taxes and corporate taxes. His domestic platform in this race promised to cut corporate taxes further to attract capital and grow the economy. Mr. Dion promised to levy a new carbon tax on business. Mr. Harper was able to explain to voters that a carbon tax is a tax on them. John McCain, take note.

Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal

 

What the fuck is wrong with eco-terrorists?

From: The Edmonton Sun
http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Alberta/2008/10/15/7089726-sun.html

Bomb blast rattles EnCana natural gas pipeline
By: DOUG MCINTYRE

CALGARY - Eco-terrorism is feared as a possible motive after a bomb exploded on a natural gas pipeline owned by Calgary energy giant EnCana.

The explosion damaged, but did not rupture, the 30-cm diameter steel gas line 50 km east of Dawson Creek, B.C., but it left a two-metre crater in the ground sometime overnight on Oct. 11.

Considering the pipeline was carrying sour gas containing toxic hydrogen sulfide (H2S), the result would have been far more severe had it blown open, said B.C. RCMP spokesman Sgt. Tim Shields.

"There would've been a massive explosion and fireball," said Shields.

"Given the seriousness of what was intended to take place, we have to assume the worst - we can't assume this was a one-time event."

The device was planted on a point where the line emerges from underground, its detonation coming just one day after a suspicious letter was sent to an area media outlet.

No specific threats or targets were cited, though the diatribe warned oil and gas companies to cease production and leave the area, said Shields.

"We don't know if it was one individual acting alone or if it was a group," he said, adding threats against producers in the oil industry-intensive region are rare.

The pipeline had an H2S concentration of 0.05% in its gas stream at the time, said EnCana spokesman Alan Boras.

"It's, relatively speaking, a low concentration of H2S," he said.

"But it's a substance that has to be treated with respect at all times and handled in a safe, professional manner."

Boras added he's unaware of any previous threats made against company interests in the Dawson Creek area, located near the B.C.-Alberta border.

"Our people are obviously very concerned about a matter such as this - they're going about their duties with an extra set of vigilance," he said.

Because the explosion targeted major infrastructure, the investigation is being assisted by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, composed of reps from the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Shields said Mounties have apprised oil and gas workers in the area to report any suspicious activity, including taking down vehicle licence plates and descriptions on anyone who looks out of place.

Anyone with information is asked to call the RCMP at (250) 784-3700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Copyright 2008 - The Edmonton Sun

 

How important a majority is going to be...

Let's Go Get That Majority!
By: Chris Reid

Yes, I have been critical of our Conservative Party here in Canada for not sticking with conservative principles, but Oct. 14th looms and it is time to put things in perspective.

Politics unfortunately is not a philosophical debate. Politics is a game you set out to win, and it comes with having to make imperfect choices in an imperfect world. When it comes down to it, disaffected libertarians, conservatives, social conservatives, while we may disagree on the details of certain issues, the larger issue of lesser government and more freedom to pursue our dreams and goals in life is what binds us together. With that, our imperfect choice is the Conservative Party.

Let’s look at the Conservative track record:
I know that last point might be a sore issue with many in the West. However, let us remember Sir John A. MacDonald’s take on Quebec, "Treat them as a faction, and they will react like a faction. Treat them as a nation, and they will react like a nation." On that note, both MacDonald and Harper understand that a nation isn’t born out of dividing people into special interest groups. With that, let’s look at the alternatives.

The Liberals and NDP want to regulate and tax our country into submission. The Liberals want to tax us for simply using the energy we use every day so we can get to work, and avoid freezing to death. They would put into action the famous Albertan bumper sticker, “Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark!” The NDP would hike taxes on businesses and stop investments in the oil sands – the most booming sector of the economy that is creating jobs for “average working families”, the families he claims to support.

If Harper only gets a minority again, government will still expand as it did under the previous parliament, where he spent taxpayer money like a Liberal on speed to avoid being defeated. Our best chance at seeing smaller government is getting out there and getting that majority for the Conservatives. Once they win, we can petition them to actually implement small-c conservative principles. So let’s go get that majority!

http://westernstandard.blogs.com/

 

An endorsement for Harper...

From: The Economist print edition

The fear factor: Why Stephen Harper does not deserve to be dumped
Oct. 9th, 2008

IT IS not easy to be a successful Conservative in Canada. Perhaps it is the effect of living next to the United States. Perhaps it is because the country was founded on the collectivist principles of "peace, order, and good government" rather than the individualist "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" of its neighbour. Perhaps it is because the things that Canadians most value about their country are its publicly run health service, its European-style welfare state and its tolerance. All are associated with the Liberals, who have been the natural party of government in Canada for the past century. To cap it all, conservative ideas of deregulation and unfettered free-market capitalism have been brought into disrepute by the financial turmoil south of the border.


So perhaps it is not surprising that the hopes of Stephen Harper, Canada's Conservative prime minister, of endowing his minority government with a parliamentary majority at a general election on October 14th may end up being dashed. At first his decision to call the election looked shrewd, as the Conservatives raced to a lead of 15 percentage points in the opinion polls. Then the Wall Street panic got going. Canadians began to worry that Mr Harper was not doing enough to protect them. His poll lead has been cut by almost half. Unless he bucks the trend he could even lose power.

That would be unwarranted. It was a surprise when Mr Harper won the last election in January 2006, ending a dozen years of Liberal rule. Few pundits imagined that he would survive longer than a year. That he has governed for 32 months is a tribute to the political skills of an underestimated man. He does not offer a soaring vision of radical change. Canadians have not warmed to him: he comes over as a bloodless control freak. But he is hardworking, and a skilled parliamentary tactician. He governs a rather successful country that needs incremental improvement, not a revolution.

Mr Harper promised Canadians some modest measures. Some of these were sensible. Others, such as the cut in the sales tax, were not. But he got most of them done. He patched up Canada's relations with the United States, which had deteriorated. His decision to keep Canadian troops fighting in Afghanistan was unpopular, but he was careful to ensure that it was backed by leading Liberals. He has increased defence spending, which shows realism in a country that lays claim to a large chunk of the disputed Arctic.

Mr Harper's political home is in the west, in oil-rich Alberta where they like their politicians in the carnivorous mould of Sarah Palin. In office he has tried to woo eastern Canada, dropping his previous opposition to abortion and gay marriage, and recognising French-speaking Quebec as a "nation within a united Canada". But his inner oilman has won out when it comes to the environment, an important issue in a country that is both a heavy carbon-emitter and especially vulnerable to climate change. Stéphane Dion, the Liberal leader, bravely proposes a carbon tax, which he claims would be revenue-neutral. Simply to rubbish this as a "crazy" idea that would "screw everybody", as Mr Harper has done, shows a disappointing lack of leadership, and is grounds enough to deny the Conservatives a majority. In fact another minority Conservative government would not be a bad result for Canada: neither of the main party leaders has done enough to persuade Canadians that they deserve untrammelled power.

If the voters go further and eject Mr Harper, that, sadly, will not be because they have been convinced by the cerebral Mr Dion's worthy carbon tax. It will be because the opposition - a gang of four, comprising the socialist New Democrats, the separatist Bloc Québécois and the rising Green Party as well as the Liberals - has succeeded in panicking the voters on the economy (see article). And yet, in a sinking world, Canada is something of a cork. Its well-regulated banks are solid. Growth has slowed but not stopped. The big worry is the fear that an American recession will drag Canada down with it.

Mr Harper says, rightly enough, that his government has taken prudent measures to help Canada weather a storm it cannot duck: he has offered tax cuts and selective aid to help vulnerable manufacturing towns. But it is his seeming non-reaction to what is so far a non-crisis that looks likely to deny him the majority he was seeking, and could even let in the opposition. In what is the first credit-crunch election in a big Western country, Mr Harper's ejection would set a dispiriting precedent that panic plays better politically than prudence.

Copyright 2008 - The Economist

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