As Crazy Politics Week has been unfolding here in Canada, I've been on the interwebs monitoring international media coverage. There has been a lot of it, which would be sort of gratifying if the story wasn't so embarassing. Kind of like how Lindsay Lohan's grandmother must feel. Anyways, I've noticed something interesting. A large majority of the international coverage suggests Harper was about to lose his job over his mishandling of the economy, not sordid partisan tricks. Here are some examples:
From The Guardian:
Canada's prime minister had a narrow escape from being the first leader of a major industrialised country to lose his job because of the economic crisis.
From the Huffington Post:
Three opposition parties have united against Harper, charging he has failed to insulate Canada from the global financial crisis. The credit crisis and a global sell off of commodities have slowed Canada's resource-rich economy, and the finance minister said last week he expects a recession.
Only The Economist seems to get it right:
This sudden decision to stage a political coup was prompted by a government economic statement on November 27th. The ostensible reason for opposition outrage was that Jim Flaherty, the finance minister, offered no new measures to stimulate the economy. But that smacks of a pretext: despite alarmist headlines, for now the economy remains in relatively good shape.
What really provoked the opposition parties was that, having said there was no need for extraordinary measures, Mr Flaherty threw in some highly partisan ones: a big cut in public funding for political parties; a ban on strikes by public-service unions; and measures making it harder for women civil servants to complain if they are not paid the same as men.
I draw three conclusions from this:
- The Economist continues to rock.
- Very few people have any idea what's actually going on in Canada.
- History may record that Harper was on the line over the economic crisis, rather than governing in bad faith and attempting to hamstring Her Majesty's loyal opposition. I'm not sure which one is worse, but the second bit makes him look like a jerk.