One anonymous commenter down-blog seems to think that I was somehow upset at the largesse in Flaherty's budget yesterday. To which I can only say: boy, you haven't been here long, have you?
We've had two decades, at provincial and federal levels, of political parties governing by balancing the budget on the backs of the poor -- no cut was too cruel, no victim too low to be kicked. So I was terrified that when the Conservatives got to power, they'd be even crueler than the Liberals had been in power.
Well, money changes people as they say. No big tax cuts, no major reorganization of the government, no head-on attacks on the poor. It is, as I said, a thoroughly Liberal budget. I quoted Andrew Coyne as being furious that nobody was willing to slash spending and screw the poor anymore because that's what Andrew Coyne will always say, and he can turn a nice phrase when he's in high dudgeon.
But I vote for the NDP. Why would I be upset if the Conservatives and Liberals have abandoned the fetish of tax-and-service-cuts? Why would I be upset if the shibboleth of "spending discipline" has lost all meaning? For every big-spending budget the Conservative Party of Canada brings in, Paul Martin and Preston Manning die a bit inside, and that makes me happy.
The only thing that's going to save Harper on this budget is that a) the BQ is playing the role of the good whore and staying bought, and b) the Liberals are doing their best to make Harper still look "disciplined" -- Stéphane Dion is out there saying not only would he shovel more money to Quebec, but he'd spend more on Natives, the environment, etc, etc. After decades of parties competing on how little they could spend on Canada, it's nice to have the reverse situation.
It's especially nice if, like me, you believe the government has immense and expensive problems that it should be tackling -- climate change, peak oil, reinvesting in infrastructure and rebuilding our military.
So: To Stephen Harper, for doing your best to bury even the idea of small-government conservatism, I say huzzah! Thanks from the NDP!