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VIEW: ‘Harper can now do just about anything he wants’, says CBC analyst

CBC political analyst Greg Weston writes, “Canadians wondering what Stephen Harper will do with a majority government are about to get their answer — namely, just about anything he wants. The Conservatives will now have the ability to pass whatever legislation they want — their comfortable majority win gives them complete control over the Commons, and they already dominate the Senate.”

1-“Parliamentary committees trying to pry into government spending, secrecy and ethical lapses likely won’t get very far – the Conservatives now have majority control of those, too.”

2-“The Prime Minister’s Office already uses cabinet orders to fill the more than 3,500 patronage jobs on federal courts, agencies and boards. But the Conservative majority will likely embolden Harper to put a conservative stamp on the Supreme Court as well, three members of which are due to retire in the next four years. One of the prime minister’s first jobs in the coming weeks will be to appoint the most important watchdog in government — a replacement for taxpayers’ best friend, Auditor General Sheila Fraser, whose term is up at the end of this month.”

3-“While Harper’s power becomes akin to what has been dubbed a friendly dictatorship, the opposition parties have been all but neutered, their practical powers limited mainly to public persuasion. Indeed, the irony of Jack Layton’s astounding success at the polls is that it helped to elect a Conservative majority that renders the NDP and other opposition parties virtually powerless in Parliament.”

4-“Will the Conservatives pass the same budget introduced just before the election? Not likely. Will they take a buzz-saw to the bureaucracy? Good chance of that.”

5-“Will they use their majority to finally reward their right-wing core on social conservative issues such as abortion and capital punishment? Don’t count on it. The one thing Harper wants more than anything else is to ensure the Liberal party is not only defeated, but decimated, a goal that will tend to keep the Conservatives close to the centre of the political spectrum. …If Harper is determined to drive a spike through the heart of Gritdom, he will use his majority in parliament to end public financing of political parties.”

The Globe and Mail reported this morning, “Stephen Harper will put this new-found authority to immediate use. …(A majority government) gives him four years to pursue his policies as he sees fit without having to shelve long-term plans every few months in case his rivals might defeat him. …He will be able to schedule government spending cuts over four years… it may also give him leeway to cut payments to provinces if his promise to keep health transfers rising at 6 per cent annually puts too much pressure on Ottawa’s coffers… say goodbye to the long-gun registry and $2-per-vote subsidies for political parties… And get ready for term limits on senators and greater foreign ownership of companies that offer telecom services such as cellphones. …The Tories will also be tempted to kill the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly over selling Western Canadian grain…”

In terms of Council of Canadians campaigns, a Conservative majority means they will pursue the Canada-European Union free trade agreement at ‘full-throttle’ and try to fulfill their promise to have it signed by January 1, 2012, they will seek to complete negotiations with the United States on perimeter security (likely before January 2012 too), and continue to ignore the funding needed for a clean-up of the Great Lakes, for upgrades to municipal water and wastewater infrastructure, and for clean drinking water in First Nations. The Harper majority government will also prioritize new jet fighters over action on climate change, and will continue to seek an expansion of the tar sands, as well as likely fracking, oil and gas exploration in the Arctic and the St. Lawrence, and continue with the Schedule 2 exemptions for mining companies that allow them to dump tailings into freshwater lakes. Recognizing the human right to water and sanitation, let alone the rights of nature, is not on their agenda. And as noted above, the six per cent increase in health care funding past the 2014 negotiations for the Canada Health Accord is doubtful.

Greg Weston’s commentary is at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/05/03/cv-election-weston-majority.html#.