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It smells like an election up in Ottawa

By Ben WedgeStaff Contributor

Depending on who you are, the smell of a pending election ranges from the smell of coffee brewing as the sun rises up on a bright new day for the Conservative Party to the smell of rotten eggs as fall downpours continue to rain on the Liberal Party.
Ironically, it is Ignatieff who seems to want the election most.
Canada’s political situation is shifting. Mere months ago, the Conservatives and Liberals were in a near dead-heat in the polls. Now, the Conservatives are kissing 40 per cent in numerous polls, and the Liberals are well below 30.
What’s worse for the Liberals is that their support has collapsed virtually everywhere. Conservatives are at 46 per cent in Ontario, and even have the lead by a few points in the GTA. Once past Sudbury and heading west, Conservatives enjoy a not-too-shabby 54 per cent support. Some signs are pointing to a majority for Stephen Harper.
The good news may not be over for Harper, however. The polls coming out this week, for the most part, were completed before Oct. 3, the night Harper stepped on stage at the National Arts Centre to play “With a Little Help From My Friends” with cellist Yo Yo Ma.
Harper showed off his piano skills, and sang much of the song by himself. The positive reaction to the videos circulating on YouTube has been nothing short of extraordinary. Much of the popular press has had nothing negative to say either, with mostly resounding support for Harper’s move at the fundraising gala.
The move hasn’t placated some voters, who are still up in arms about the supposed funding cuts to the arts. The budge for the CBC went up 19 per cent between 2006 and 2008, despite losing the contract to cover the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Even the 800 staff members who were expected to be laid off are being kept.
Other funding cuts, for festivals, tours, etc., had their funding shifted to departments such as Tourism and Heritage. The rest of the “cuts” were cancelled, in favour of cuts in other departments.
Harper needs to tighten the purse strings of government soon, in order to prevent us from getting too close to a Trudeau-style tax-and-spend government. The sooner the recession is truly over, the sooner the books will be back in the black. Hopefully it doesn’t take as long as the most pessimistic predictions say.
The Harper government also committed $2 billion for post-secondary education facilities alone. Dalhousie and King’s have received almost $30 million to fix the Life Sciences Centre and do some work on the air systems over at King’s. Nova Scotia has received a decent chunk of change to keep shovels in the ground.
While Harper’s post-secondary education platform could be bolstered, most student journalists are overlooking his achievements.
This government introduced the first national system of needs-based grants. That program will give students from low-income families as much as $2000 this year to help pay the cost of their education.
Some of the Conservative government’s tax breaks also target students. The lack of GST on textbooks saved many students at least $20 this semester, not much, but still enough for a night out for many. For students who don’t have access to the U-Pass, there’s also a GST rebate on transit passes. With GST being the only tax we pay (well, HST in Nova Scotia), the drop from 7 to 5 percent has been a help to students.
An election this fall could be a dream come true for Harper with the sweet smell of victory on the horizon.

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