Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In the alternative...

Don Martin opines on the electoral prospects of Harper's Quebec City MPs if the PM is backing away from funding that arena:
The decision is potentially terminal for the seven giddy Conservative MPs photographed in Nordiques hockey jerseys last week. The Prime Minister’s Office insists those MPs engineered a rogue photo-op, a tough swallow given Mr. Harper’s micromanaging ways, but the MPs clearly aligned their electoral fate with federal arena funding. Which means they’re dead.
Which may explain Harper's alternative sales job last night in Quebec City to Conservative party supporters:
He also tried to reassure voters that Ottawa has already spent millions in the region where the vast majority of the Conservative caucus were elected in the 2008 election.

Mr. Harper went on to list many of the hundreds of infrastructure projects his government has funded in the region.
Elsewhere described this way:
Harper then went on to list contributions by his government to expand the Universit√© Laval football stadium, modernize the airport and money for the city’s 400th anniversary.
Yes, we well know by now that this is what Harper's government has done, ensured that infrastructure funding has been well spread to Conservative ridings. This seems to be a large part of the ongoing Harper strategy, waving federal dollars the government has spent at any given constituency with the implicit expectation of electoral reward in return. We spent for you, elect us. Never mind that it wasn't the Conservative party footing the bill, it was the taxpayers of Canada. It is illuminating to read the blatant pushing of this spending in the context of a partisan appeal. Not that surprising, but still illuminating to see it explicitly pushed.

This is partly what people reacted loudly and negatively to as this NHL arena play has unfolded. It focussed Canadians a bit on questions like whether such projects are worth government expenditure and whether improper partisan motives are at hand. Maybe it was a question of scale that brought that attention. But there Harper was, essentially sustaining the same ploy to the Quebec City audience last night. Sounding very election ready in the process too. Likely a preview of the Harper stump speech across the nation, just interchange the infrastructure projects in the speech.