Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Election analysis

I did my more detailed analysis of yesterday's Canadian election over at markrite, but I thought I'd say a little more here, in areas likely of more interest to Big Tent readers.

With a Conservative government in place, I think you can look to see a more cooperative, but not conciliatory, approach to Canada-U.S. relations, especially in terms of the current trade disputes. This may mean a quicker resolution to softwood lumber or beef disputes, but not necessarily. I also think there will be a more cooperative relationship in defence and foreign policy matters. A Conservative might sign on to BMD, but this won't really mean anything, since the practical cooperation is already happening at NORAD anyway, and the Liberal reversal on BMD was almost totally symbolic. There will also probably be a more active Canadian involvement in the war on terror. In Iraq, this will definitely not mean sending troops to patrol Baghdad or Ramadi. At most it might mean air or sea support in the region. This is not because Harper doesn't support the war in Iraq, or even because he considers it politically unacceptable (although that's probably a consideration), but because Canada simply doesn't have the strength to deploy to Iraq. The Army is about to take up a PRT/anti-Taliban position in Afghanistan, one that will sap most of the ability of the Canadian Forces for the foreseeable future. Harper of course supports this mission, and may even move to expand it somewhat. But there will likely a rebuilding of the Canadian military, with significant budget increases and new equipment purchases to repair the damage of the past 30 years. Most of the new cooperation will probably come in the field of intelligence and law-enforcement. Expect to see Canadian intelligence agencies to get a boost both in terms of funding and mandate.

For the other issues that Americans might be interested in, there's not likely to be much change. Social issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, or marijuana decriminalization will either stay off the radar or will get only token attention from the Conservatives, even with their social Conservative base. I'm sure this will disappoint many American conservatives who see a right-wing government in power in Ottawa, and thus expect their views to find more favour, but realistically that's not the case. Harper won on a more moderate platform, and he knows to hold and increase his power, he will have to play to that mandate.

I'll be back a little to update this post with some links to other commentators you might find interesting.

Update: I haven't been able to find much commentary in the American papers, but here's links:

Harper's new beginning
Grit empire crumbles
Forget fundamentals
Hopeful signs for Harper
Conservatives' changes no big deal
Canada's Harper Seen as Shrewd, Serious, Bland

And for those who prefer Frum and Steyn:
Putting an end to Ottawa's brat act
A Howardesque leader

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