It has been one of Stephen Harper's goals to get a real debate between left and right. It is one of the reasons so much energy has been used to stamp out the grits. The grits since Pearson and Trudeau have stood for nothing. As time goes by, the grits will fade into much deserved irrelevance.
The 41st Parliament of Canada is young but already we’re seeing Conservatives and New Democrats take sharply different partisan approaches to the business of the nation.
If this keeps up for four years, as I suspect it will, it could radically re-shape the dynamic of federal politics in Canada, something I suspect both Conservatives and New Democrats would be pleased about, though it should scare Liberals who stand to be further marginalized from the national conversation.
On Monday, New Democrats voted to oppose the extension of the military mission in Libya. That’s a change because, for most of the last decade, on broad foreign policy questions such as our commitment in Afghanistan, the Liberals and Conservatives largely agreed with each other, regardless of who was in power.
On Tuesday, the Conservatives moved to limit debate on their omnibus crime bill to speed its passage into law.
NDP deputy leader Libby Davies called this “a nasty motion” intended “to stifle debate.”
Rookie Conservative MP Mark Strahl replied: “We’re just delivering on campaign promises. Get used to it.”
Meanwhile, over in a House of Commons committee, MPs were discussing how best to proceed with a study of CBC’s decision to contest an order by Parliament’s Information Commissioner that it must release records about some of its activities.
In the last few minority parliaments, this kind of “process” debate would be an invitation for all parties to frustrate their opponent’s goals using parliamentary procedure.