Caucus Splitting

flaherty igloo

By design, Tuesday’s budget was a non-event. The public’s eyes are on Sochi, and the pundits’ eyes are on next year’s budget. So, it should not be surprising that it was the post-budget fallout that grabbed the most headlines, when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty mused that the Tories central 2011 campaign promise of income splitting might not actually be in next year’s budget.

We can debate the merits of income splitting (and this ensures we will), but what I find most shocking about this is that we appear to have the first public rift between Stephen Harper and the only Finance Minister he has ever known. This comes on the heels Cabinet feuds, leadership jockeying, resignation speculation, and backbench revolts. On Monday, the Toronto Star was reporting hourly leaks about Conservative re-election strategy.

By themselves, none of these stories are especially noteworthy. Leadership aspirants are always jockeying for position in Ottawa, and disgruntled party members will flip anything remotely interesting to the media. Despite his candid musings, Stephen Harper’s Finance Minister has caused him a lot fewer headaches than Jean Chretien’s.

But the one thing everyone could agree on about the Harper government is that they were always united and on message. Critics would say this is because of a dictatorial style of leadership, but even they would concede it’s been effective. Now, after 8 years in power, this government is starting to look very much like a government which has been in power for 8 years. And that has got to be worrisome for Stephen Harper.

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2 responses to “Caucus Splitting”

  1. I seriously wonder how machavellian this CON group is; could this not possibly be a convenient, even planned, distraction from their covert hijinks in regards to Elections Canada? No sense debating the jerrymandering of both people’s ability to exercise their franchise and the financial dynamiting of election spending caps when people can muse about the disagreement between one past-his-prime minister, the PM-in-chief and his second blowhard in command… As much as i’d like to believe this is another sign of a government imploding before our eyes, all i see is how people are being steered away (the At Issue Panel spent the whole segment on this “what does it mean?” meme) from a serious gutting of a given right.

  2. I get some slightly disappointed amusement from how much attention a politician’s single comment generates. I don’t believe one such utterance is really worthy of all the attention. As daninvan points out, there are better things to fuss over that are actually happening right now (ie., in tabled bills). Too much energy and focus is wasted on extended, speculative interpretations about what one quote might eventually, possibly mean.

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