After a motion of non-confidence brought down the Liberal government in November, the Conservative party was elected. Although their minority government is even smaller than the Liberals’, Stephen Harper seems to think he has a firm grasp on power. The new PM is breaking promises left, right and center and has shattered any illusions that he was going to clean up after a decade of Liberal corruption. His first move, aside from putting on a few pounds, was to appoint a cabinet. Harper managed to break two of his promises before parliament was even in session, just by appointing two ministers – one, David Emerson who was elected as a Liberal, and the other, Michael Fortier who wasn’t elected at all! Stephen Harper seems to think he has a majority government that can’t be touched, but his government is only as stable as the opposition allows it to be. Luckily for the Prime Minister, the NDP caucus hasn’t figured out that the Liberals are out of office. They are still focusing all of their energy on attacking the Liberal party instead of the new right-wing government.

Stephen Harper’s shift to the right has taken many off guard. After all, he did everything he could to play up the moderate side of the conservative party, interested solely in cleaning up corruption and making government “open and accountable”. But all of this has proven to be nothing more than a big lie to get votes. Now the Canadian working class is faced with the challenge of defeating the conservative agenda.

Thus far, the NDP has confined itself to parliamentary maneuvering instead of mobilizing the population. This is a dangerous road for anyone actually interested in defeating Stephen Harper. Jack Layton is moving to the center of the political spectrum in hopes of gaining support from former Liberals, but this is only serving to alienate his traditional base of support. It is this tactic that kept the NDP from saying anything substantial in the election campaign. For fear of turning off people supporting Canadian imperialism, Jack Layton refrained from denouncing Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan. The NDP parliamentarians confined themselves to demanding a debate on the issue and then when they actually got it, they couldn’t deliver any substantial opposition. The debate in the parliament looked more like a pep rally for the troops.

At the time of writing there are rumours that the NDP will vote in favour of Stephen Harper’s conservative budget. This budget plans to scrap the national childcare program and replace it with a twelve hundred dollar tax break for parents. The Conservative party needs the support of other parties to carry through their policies, but every other party in parliament has defended the childcare program instituted by the Liberal government. If the NDP Members of Parliament vote in favour of a budget that will eliminate the childcare program it will be a massive betrayal.

Both the Liberal and Conservative parties defend the interests of the corporate elite. The only way to defeat the conservative agenda is to mobilize the Canadian working class. Parliamentary maneuvering will not stop big business from pushing through their agenda. A mass movement led by the Canadian Labour Congress and New Democratic Party could force Stephen Harper to back off. The voice of twenty-nine Members of Parliament will not sway the government, but the voice of twenty-nine Members of Parliament backed up by millions of people in the streets will. If Jack Layton is serious about defeating the Conservatives he needs to stop capitulating, and fight to improve the lives of working people.