Tuesday, January 24, 2006

O Canada, Terre de Mes Haïe-jeux

The people of Canada have spoken. The Conservatives, led by Calgary's Stephen Harper, will be forming a new coalition government. Harper has expressed his own personal opposition to both abortion and gay marriage, although he has promised not to challenge the legal status of abortion in Canada. He has suggested, however, that he might ask Parliament to revisit the issue of gay marriage, although that seems likely to be an empty threat, since 8 of the 10 provinces, representing almost 90% of the country's population, sanctioned gay marriage before the federal government finally acted to legalize it nationwide in July 2005.

The mandate given to Harper's Conservative government, though, is even more tenuous than George W. Bush's mandate in the United States. The Tories won only 40% of the seats in Parliament, and the left-leaning NDP jumped from 18 to 29 seats. The loser was the scandal-riven Liberal Party, which had held power for 13 years.

Even though Harper has pledged to be Dubya's bitch, the election in Canada does not entirely augur well for the Republicans south of the border. The effect of the ethical cloud over the ruling Liberal Party should have the GOP more than a little worried heading into this fall's U.S. election, and Harper will be quite limited in his attempts to kowtow to his Washington overlords because of the minority status of his government. Although Canada will tone down its anti-American rhetoric and may even squander some of its military budget on Bush's delusions of a North American missile shield, there is no possibility of seeing Canadian troops in Baghdad or Fallujah any time soon.