In 2015, conservatives finally lost the battle of the deficit.
As I pointed out to general lack of acclaim right after the election, the current Prime Minister campaigned on the idea that deficits were a good thing. And when the CPC treated it as yet another brain fart from Mr. In Over His Head, it was just another indication that they were going down fast.
Despite what these guys may say, the only reason why Harper was able to own the issue of being an economic manager for so long despite running deficits of his own was because progressives refused to own the fact that they were big spenders.
Before Trudeau, when Conservatives chided Liberals for being wasteful, it bothered them so much that they did not-very-progressive things like cut transfers to the provinces. This caused "fiscal conservatives" and "blue Liberals" to become excited to the point of sexual arousal while Canadians dependent on government largesse (i.e. everyone else) got screwed.
This led the numpties who comprise Canada's political commentariat to conclude that if Chretien's parliamentary supremacy couldn't protect him from being vulnerable on fiscal issues, then there must be a silent majority of "fiscal conservatives" who needed to be pandered to.
And because everyone in Canada naively believes what they read in the newspapers and hear on the CBC, it became an article of faith that deficits needed to be avoided like the plague.
This myth was so pervasive that Trudeau himself had to settle for "Deficits are a way of measuring the kind of growth and the kind of success that a government is actually able to create" instead of "Deficits are awesome, deal with it."
Now the conservative mouthpieces who have traded on this fantasy of a Canada where everyone thinks like them would have you believe that the problem was that Harper allegedly didn't articulate a vision for fiscal conservatism during the campaign.
Unfortunately for them, 2016 is fast shaping up to be the year where the other shoe drops and progressives campaign on some version of, "You know what else is awesome, besides deficits? Taxes. Higher taxes are awesome."
And once that shoe drops, it's going to be very hard going for the conservative mouthpieces because once they lose the taxation battle, they will have no more legs to stand on.
Now, I don't know if progressives have the stones to actually do this. I can see a few reasons why they might try, though.
First of all we've got this "Bob from Calgary" story, which the Media Party has seized on with the kind of fervid glee they only reserve for when Canadians poke the United States in the eye. If you haven't been following it, an academic from Edmonton proudly expressed the belief that taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society in a New York Times article's comment section and conservatives freaked out and looked completely defensive and fearful.
Then we've got the upcoming Manitoba provincial election. Premier Greg Selinger has a chance to stand firm on his tax hike, which he braved a so-called caucus revolt over and which is exactly the sort of thing that would galvanize the unions into keeping him elected despite polls putting the NDP in third place.
And finally, on the subject of tax hikes, even the Toronto Star is starting to acknowledge that you can only call a tax hike something else so many times before it gets old.
Once again: I don't want to be right here. I hope I'm wrong.
But, Lord help me, I don't think I am.
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