Canada: Conservatives provide austerity to workers, aid to banks

Published on WSWS, by Keith Jones, 29 November 2008.

The annual fall update on the Canadian economy delivered by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty Thursday had two central themes: the need for austerity in public spending and for the government to be equipped with new powers to come to the aid of the banks …

… The Conservatives have signaled that they will announce a package of “stimulus” measures in a federal budget early in the new year. They clearly want to have a better handle on what the incoming Barack Obama administration intends to do.

Just as importantly, they want to ensure that any aid to the big auto companies is tied to wage cuts and other contract concessions on the part of auto workers …

… The fall of the government cannot be precluded. But it is probable that either the Conservatives or Liberals will back down.

The capitalist press has almost universally condemned the Conservative maneuver over party financing as an ill-conceived and transparent political power-play. The Liberal party is mired in crisis – a crisis rooted in corporate Canada’s strong support for the Harper government – and is in the midst of changing leaders. The current party leader, Stéphane Dion, is slated to be replaced at a leadership convention scheduled for next May.

Negotiations between the Liberals and NDP could well falter over questions of policy and/or the division of power. And even if the Liberals could see their way to accepting the pro-Quebec independence Bloc Québécois as a de facto third partner in the replacement of the current Conservative government, the BQ may well balk at helping its longtime principal federalist rival return to power. (full long text).

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