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Here's the beginning of my column about Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

On Jan. 27, the conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will present its first budget since winning reelection last October. For a country seeking relief from recession, it can’t come soon enough.

With an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, Canada ended 2008 hemorrhaging jobs — 105,000 in the last two months of the year. That pales in comparison to the economic blood-letting taking place south of its border. But with so much of the Canadian economy dependent on the U.S., the economic outlook is grim.

Venomous partisan politics, meanwhile, left Canada facing an economic crisis without Parliament, which is where politicians conduct the nation’s business. If U.S. residents need further proof of the perils of partisanship, they need only look north of the border.

On Dec. 4, Harper convinced the governor general, Canada’s acting head of state, to suspend the cornerstone of the country’s democracy for seven weeks. The move came as Harper faced a vote that would have brought down his minority government less than two months after it was reelected. So to avoid it, he got rid of Parliament. 

To read the rest, click here.