Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pathologies revealed

Paul Wells is right to point out the parallels between the McGuinty Libs' environmentally-destructive, all-or-nothing omnibus bill and the similar legislation being rammed through Parliament by the Harper Cons. But there's an even more telling connection between Ontario and federal politics.

At the time they presented their 2008 FU to a country headed into a recession, the Cons had a theory as to how they might manage to maintain their hold on power:
(According to "various and sundry Conservative pundits, both official and unofficial"), the Conservatives are counting on the NDP eventually coming around to their point of view, on the theory that Jack Layton and company’s almost pathological desire to destroy the Liberal Party forever will override any short-term concern over losing a few million dollars a year.
Needless to say, the bet that the NDP would be more focused on attacking the Libs than policy outcomes proved a disastrous one. But it also strikes me as one of the most important windows on the Conservative soul we've seen since the party took power. After all, since the expectation that a party would be willing to vote against everything it stands for solely to make life difficult for the Libs obviously wasn't based on the actual NDP, it presumably reflected the Cons' own mindset.

And in Ontario, we now seem to have confirmation of that fact.

By all rights, the PCs would have been expected to reject the NDP's amendments - which in aiming to preserve public services and environmental protection run contrary to both the PCs' own values, and the exact policies being implemented by their federal cousins. But unlike Jack Layton's NDP, Tim Hudak and his MPPs apparently have no qualms about voting against everything they believe in for the sake of making life difficult for their neighbourhood Liberal party.

Of course, Layton's principled stand helped to lay the groundwork for the NDP's rise to the forefront of federal politics. And one might hope for the converse to prove true as well, with Hudak paying a steep price for his party's complete lack of principle.

But there's one problem with that prospect, as the McGuinty Libs seem utterly tone-deaf as to whose position deserves to be attacked. Faced with two opposing parties - one genuinely trying to improve legislation in accordance with its own values, and another manifesting pathological hatred which overrides any values it could otherwise claim - McGuinty and his henchmen have somehow decided to target only the former. 

That figures to let Hudak off the hook for what would otherwise be a flashing neon warning sign about his unfitness for office (not to mention an opportunity to turn much of the corporate community against the PCs). But hopefully it will also serve to highlight the distinction between Andrea Horwath's efforts to make things better and McGuinty's insistence that no such thing is possible - which at least at the federal level was exactly the combination which has the Libs questioning their own existence.

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