Craig's Take: Expect the unexpected as Parliament returns
Published Saturday, September 17, 2011 1:59PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:00AM EDT
The return of Parliament on Monday marks a watershed, in the life of the country. Whether it will be an eventful Parliament or not is difficult to say because it also contains unprecedented elements.
Despite a brief comeback following the election, this is the first full parliamentary session for a newly-elected majority government in 11 years since Jean Chretien's third majority in 2000.
More importantly it is the first Conservative government elected in a generation, although Brian Mulroney was a Progressive Conservative when he was elected in 1984, but Stephen Harper doesn't like that word ‘Progressive' with its tinge of leftyness and has dropped it from the name of his party.
For the first time ever the NDP will face the government as the party in official Opposition but they will do so without the popular leader who got them there, Jack Layton.
Facing off against the government will also be a greatly-reduced Liberal party also with an interim but savvy leader, Bob Rae. Much of Liberal party's energy will be absorbed in sorting out its internal disorder.
Meanwhile the once-powerful Quebec-based Bloc Quebecois has been reduced to a corporal's guard.
All of this means that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, facing an opposition without any fulltime leaders and armed with his majority mandate, can pretty much write his own ticket.
The credibility of the Conservative government and the quality that got them elected has been their laser-like focus on the economy.
On Question Period this Sunday we'll be asking the finance minister whether or not he believes Canada will avoid a recession and if not, what he believes the Canadian government can do about it.
With governments in the United States and Europe crushed with indebtedness, burdened with faltering growth and austerity budgets, it is hard to see how Canada can escape recession since 90 per cent of our exports go to those two areas of the world.
We'll also talk to the opposition parties about what course they think the government should chart into turbulent economic waters.
Should the Canadian government undertake another multi-billion dollar stimulus program if joblessness continues to rise or should it stick with its plan to cut spending and eliminate the deficit in the next three years?
This is not likely to be an easy session for the NDP with an inexperienced team which also must cope with a long leadership race, which despite its best hopes, may be hard to contain in terms of its civility.
As always, we can expect the unexpected.
- Craig Oliver