Not a deal, just a meeting of minds - Macleans.ca
 

Not a deal, just a meeting of minds

The NDP, writes Andrew Coyne, will have a hard time voting against the Tories EI reforms


 

laytonThe plot thickens…

Tories to boost long-term worker benefits

The federal Conservatives are set to introduce employment insurance enhancements that could change the treatment of severance packages and help laid-off long-term workers find jobs more quickly, The Canadian Press has learned.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley is expected to table new measures as early as next week, with a package designed to undermine the Liberals’ pre-election campaign to reform EI and burnish the Tory image of being good economic managers.

The Conservatives are eyeing measures that would stop the treatment of severance packages as earnings; extend benefits for those who have paid into the EI system for years; or offer “wage insurance” — a topping-up of benefits for laid-off workers who are reluctant to take a new lower-paid job.

Moving expenses are also in play, in the hope of helping unemployed people relocate easily to find work. Maternity and paternity benefits for self-employed workers have also been under consideration.

Never mind the Liberals. Surely the more interesting question is: how does the NDP react? Conventional wisdom has it that the NDP couldn’t possibly prop up the Tories, having famously voted against them 79 times — and that the Tories couldn’t make a pitch for their support, because that would undermine their campaign against the putative Liberal coalition with the “socialists and separatists.” Besides, didn’t both leaders rule out any “back-room deals”?

So okay, it’s not a deal: it’s just a package of reforms to EI. A package that the NDP would have a hard time voting against. You know, what with the recession and all. It’s not like they’d be supporting the Tories. Just doing what’s right for working families.

UPDATE:

Sources told the CBC the measures are being introduced to woo the NDP in advance of a possible confidence vote. NDP Leader Jack Layton has signalled his party is prepared to work with the Conservatives if Prime Minister Stephen Harper is prepared to compromise…

A senior NDP official told CBC News the party would look closely at the Conservative proposals.

“There needs to be substance behind the EI improvements for NDP support,” the official said. “The unemployed need real help and they need it now. NDP bills and motions on EI point the way to what needs to be done.”

But remember: no deals.

UPPERDATE:

NDP Leader Jack Layton says he doesn’t believe an election is inevitable, despite speculation that a non-confidence vote next week could topple the Conservative government…

Layton said Saturday he would prefer that the parties work together on Employment Insurance reform, a job-creation plan, help for the elderly and consumer protections.

“We’ll side with the Canadian people, that’s who we’ll side with,” Layton told CTV News Channel. “And I guess I’m looking for results for Canadians. And I’m not ready to say that an election is somehow inevitable. We should be trying to make Parliament work.”

Layton called on the party leaders to “put some of these partisan considerations — the focus on how many seats you’ve got, how large your caucus is, and so on — aside and instead get results for people that are in need.”

Freud much?


 

Not a deal, just a meeting of minds

  1. I have 2011 for a election.

    It is really fun to watch the NDP twist in the wind right now. Jack had it coming….

    • As a liberal I could not agree more. I live in toronto danforth and it will be very entertaining watching those who vote for Jack try to justify their continued support. It is fun being a liberal once more. Thank you Mr. Ignatieff.

  2. October 2012. It's, like, a law or something.

    • A Law????

      This is Canada, come on man…

    • The anniversary of only being only three years away from being out of deficit? Surely you jest Mr. Coyne.

    • So Harper gets to usher in the apocalypse… it seems fitting.

    • While I think chances are better than not there wont be an election just yet, I dont think we will make it to end of term.

      I do believe the Cons will pull the plug after the G8. Fall 2010 is when I expect it. I just wish they would just all agree to it now. 2012 would be a good thing as well. But we are cursed with living 2 minutes to midnight for awhile.

    • An empty law that Mr Harper will override whenever he finds it advantageous to do so.

      Pffffffffffft!

  3. Lucy (S.H.) with football (EI reform) and Charlie Brown (J.L.) comes along,
    Wonder what happens?

    Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

    But…

  4. I think the point about avoiding the appearance of a backroom deal is a real good one and adds a fascinating dimension to this ongoing soap opera.

    • Transparency is what PMSH promised.

  5. Who cares. If it's something useful for people in trouble, then support it.

    Let the abacus counters among the various cheering sections keep track
    of the political points. The NDP will still hate Harper and vice versa. So what.

  6. I think we should get it over with and have one long, endless rolling election. One riding every business day. Double up most Mondays and we'd be sitting pretty. Each riding goes to the polls. At the end of the day, whoever has most seats is the Prime Minister for a blissful twenty-four hours.

    From your perspective, Andrew, At Issue would never have to go off the air. By which I mean you, Chantal, and Allan would be strapped into chairs like A Clockwork Orange with clips of stump speeches and meaningless campaign promises flashed before your eyes.

    • Finally, an electoral reform policy I would vote for.

  7. So in a desperate bid to save his job, Paul Martin reluctantly throws a national daycare plan on the table. Oops, flashback there. I mean Stephen Harper reluctantly throws EI reforms on the table.

    • EI reforms that Monty Solberg worked on…some time ago, when he was an MP back in 2008;
      kept in the vault for just this kind of occassion.
      Who knew it would come in so handy! Oh wait….

      • If you doubled Monty Solberg's IQ . . . it would not reach double digits.

        Harper, I suspect, equally so,

        • Dude…why give away all your credibility in one post?

        • Yes, Stephen Harper, who was the top student at his high school (a fairly good high school), and who could have walked into a phd program in political science clearly has a single digit IQ because he often disagrees the brilliant James Connors.

          This is one of the things that bugs me about our political discourse. We assume that other people disagree with us because they are too stupid to grasp our vision of things, rather than because they have different preferences, when the latter is almost certainly true. Thus politics is viewed not through the prism of compromise between different policy preferences, but rather, as an engineering problem where there is the infallible position of James Connors and his compatriots and the idiotic or immoral one proposed by the other guys.

          Of course, what can we expect from a populace where something like 70% of people believe themselves to be of above average intelligence (no doubt spurred on by crappy online IQ tests that tell them they have an IQ of 140).

          • "We assume that other people disagree with us because they are too stupid to grasp our vision of things,"

            Or because they're crazy, or because they're evil. Don't forget those.

          • What are you suggesting about engineers?

    • The $5 billion for childcare was promised, announced, allocated and booked long before any budget deals with Jack Layton.

  8. The CBC is saying this is going to be a Ways and Means Motion… if that's the case, I recall the BQ already having been quoted as saying they'd vote for that.

    • According to an article I linked to somewhere, the Tories have moved a ways and means motion to next Friday, and the Bloc have said that they will vote against it, thus leaving the government's fate in NDP hands. And, if Mr. Coyne is correct, these EI measures may weight into their calculation. Mabye.

    • If I'm not mistaken, the Ways and Means motion that the Bloc promised to vote for was one to implement the Home Reno credit.

  9. So what if the NDP vote for it, it's not a non confidence matter? Big whoop on the election angle, maybe just a discussion of some brownie talking points.

  10. It's a non-confidence matter, from what I'm reading.

    • So if Layton saves your guy's butt, will all those 'Thanks Jack' daycounters on Liblogs be set back to 1?

  11. It's a non-confidence matter, form what I'm reading.

  12. Even if this passes, it doesn't mean that there will be no election. The CPC-NDP arrangement doesn't seem extraordinarily stable.

    • With Dippers polling at a loss of 1/3 of there seats, it can last a long while.
      Long enough to bring our brave soldiers home.

      • I think you have a point. But they are between a rock and a hard place. The Liberals get to whack them for propping up a CPC government that doesn't have a lot of money for goodies. In general, NDP and CPC governing philosophy, so I can't see it being palatable to both parties for long.

        • Jack was willing to totally ditch Dippers #1 election policy for a cabinet seat in Dion's coalition government. scrapping corporate tax cuts.
          To work with Harper, all he has to do is park that ego. Harper is not Martin, Martin didn't want an election.

          • Harper and Layton can work very well together, like with the Residential Schoool apology.
            They just have to find issues where they CAN find a compromise….just like the compromises they made to support Dion as PM.
            Time Jack walked the talk on making parliament work.

          • Pro NDP until you're anti-NDP?

          • The Head and Heart Con/NDP government would likely be the best, most productive parliament in years.
            Those Liberals keep wanting to be the broker and mess things up.

  13. Wage insurance, or whatever they want to call it, is a fantastic idea – injects some cash into the economy to people who would actually spend it while encouraging people to take jobs rather than discouraging it as is usual for increases to EI.

    The other proposals, without details, seem mediocre or double-edged, but this… I don't care who puts it forth, I want to see that become law.

    • Huge improvement over EI 360, where those excluded out number those included 4:1
      At least that's what Kevin Page's report indicates.
      Those not considered the most vulnerable, like on maternity and sick leave, first timers, re-entrants that got laid off….are excluded, when included, the cost is 4X higher.

    • I beg to differ, it sounds like an incentive to scam the system. Guess what? People will start hiring but paying a large portion of salaries under the table, so that people can work and collect EI at the same time. And it will be very hard to uncover such a scam. Who's to day that payment was a bonus and not a Christmas gift? Who's to say that company car is not in fact a company car but an employee's car?

  14. "The plot thickens"

    We're already past the preface and chapter one of an election campaign Andrew. Don't let the lack of signage fool you. It's on.

    • Except that the NDP has yet to go all-in.

  15. I'm with Don Drummond, it would be hard to disagree with any of those measures. But nothing of what I have seen addresses the issue of equity of treatment. There is one Canadian citizenship, not 58. There should be one standard for this federal program. We need to build a single Canadian citizenship, not 58 of them.

    If 'les Cons' don't address equity, nothing changes. What the NDP and Liberals are fighting for is equity of treatment. While the policies are a good step in the right direction, they don't address the fundamental problem. I guess we'll have to see what they actually come out with.

    Equity of treatment is also good for labour mobility, by the way.

    • And at what level should we set it? Should we go with a national avg? or should we go by the region with highest unemployment or the highest rate of seasonal workers?

      • We should encourage people to move where the jobs are. Diverse national rates rewards people for staying in high unemployment areas.

        • Yup.

        • I hardly think someone in rural Atlantic Canada is getting "rewarded" when going on EI in the months they can't find work.

          • It's not the people on EI who are being 'rewarded', it's the companies which can rely on their artificially cheap labour, subsidized by EI.

          • Yup.

          • Part of the angst around this hypothetical Atlantic Canadian comes from the fact that the program is called Employment Insurance, and, more importantly, many Canadians feel that it should actually be an insurance program.

            Most (all?) insurance programs are going to have a certain, small number of participants who end up taking more out than they put in, and a larger number of participants who end up putting more premiums in than they ever receive as benefits; for the most part nobody really knows for sure if they will be net 'losers' or 'winners'. But with the current EI program we can predict with almost total certainty which group of people is going to benefit year after year. So this becomes an income redistribution program rather than an actual insurance program.

            I'll leave it at that. I'm pretty sure that Andrew Coyne wrote a column about 2 or 3 months ago where he made the same case, and obviously did it way better that I have.

            Oh, and I'm not necessarily against income redistribution, just that EI shouldn't be the way that we do it.

          • Part of the angst around this hypothetical Atlantic Canadian comes from the fact that the program is called Employment Insurance, and, more importantly, many Canadians feel that it should actually be an insurance program.

            Most (all?) insurance programs are going to have a certain, small number of participants who end up taking more out than they put in, and a larger number of participants who end up putting more premiums in than they ever receive as benefits; for the most part nobody really knows for sure if they will be net 'losers' or 'winners'. But with the current EI program we can predict with almost total certainty which group of people is going to benefit year after year. So this becomes an income redistribution program rather than an actual insurance program.

            I'll leave it at that. I'm pretty sure that Andrew Coyne wrote a column about 2 or 3 months ago where he made a similar case, and obviously did it way better than I have.

            Oh, and I'm not necessarily against income redistribution, just that EI shouldn't be the way that we do it.

        • Most people I know who are willing to move wouldn't stay put just because of EI – if they can find a job in another location, they'll move. EI is not a substitute for a real job. I can understand removing the diversity for reasons of fairness (though, that's a matter for debate as well), but not as a means of encouraging people to move.

          We want to encourage people to get jobs, wherever they are, but the diverity of rates only matters to the unemployed, not to those who find jobs. More support to cover moving expenses and elimination of support for those who are habitually unemployed would go further to get people long-term jobs than simply removing the diversity of nation rates.

      • I would like to see the level set as a result of public consulations where experts are on hand to provide costs and benefits of various options, reconcile the various costs, benefits and interests through a consensus building process and come to policy conclusions. If we are going to set one number for the country, you don't know what the 'right' one is any better than I do. Government sure as hell doesn't know best. At least let the people have their say on the matter and then the government can decide.

        Also, I have never understood why the employers of seasonal workers are subsidized by the taxpayer through EI. But I'm also in favour of labour mobility measures, so what do I know, right ?

        • FWIW, my question was completely serious. Apologies if it was taken as snarky, I was interested in hearing people's thoughts on how to deal with the inevitable question of where to set EI if the standard was national.

          • I considered your question serious, and I hope my answer was taken the same way. Any number will be by its very nature both arbitrary and political. That's why we have to allow ordinary Canadians in on the decision making process. We need to create a consensus across the country for this.

          • I realize that this has a bit of an idealistic aspect to it, but isn't this exactly why a group of about 100,000 voters get together every year or two or three or four, to elect a representative who is supposed to represent ALL of those people, and so on. I'm sure you get the point, so I won't go any further.

          • So our only democratic input is at election time, and the rest of the time we don't get to have any say or input into the policy making process ? I am tired of this elected dictatorship and this endless partisan to-ing and fro-ing. We need to start engaging people in the public policy decision making process, particularly when there are contentious issues like EI reform where partisanship always seems to trump reason. Not only will we get better policy, we will increase the health and strength of our democracy.

          • No, that's not quite what I meant. I'll try to clarify.

            If our MPs were actually doing their jobs the way they 'should' be done, you and I and other posters might not be having this discussion because:
            – the issue of possible EI reform (for example) would be getting discussed at an HoC committee
            – our MPs would be using their free mailing privileges to solicit input from constituents with open ended questions rather than "Do you support X, Y or Z?" with an arrow aimed at X.
            – as deliberations proceeded our MPs would keep us updated, letting us know why the great idea that we had presented 3 months earlier might not work so well when you consider the impact on other parts of our great country
            – and so on (ie the system would be working).

            But, as I said in my earlier post, maybe that is too idealistic, maybe MPs just can't prevent themselves from being, first and foremost, members of political parties. I'm not sure how to answer that problem.

            From an earlier post of yours…..
            "I would like to see the level set as a result of public consulations where experts are on hand to provide costs and benefits of various options, reconcile the various costs, benefits and interests through a consensus building process and come to policy conclusions……. Government sure as hell doesn't know best. At least let the people have their say on the matter and then the government can decide."

            I totally agree with the use of experts; again, that is what the committees are supposed to do, and I often wonder if they fail as often as we are led to believe.

            And I agree with you when you say governments don't know best, especially if you mean the MPs themselves. But government should be able to provide a useful role by facilitating the deliberations and taking care of all the other mechanics of actually taking ideas/solutions and implementing them.

          • Sorry, now I understand better what you were saying.

            What you suggest would certainly constitute a good step forward, but is a bit too timid for my tastes. That's more like consultation than deliberation. What I mean is giving people all the same options and information that a Minister would have as well as the same access to technocrats and then get them to hash out the conflicting interests and choose priorities or options. This should not be for every single policy decision, just the most contentious ones where the government needs to make some hard choices between competing interests or values and where no consensus for action exists.

            This has a number of potential benefits. It can build consensus around a solution and reduce conflict. It can educate people on the issues and how hard it is to reconcile everything. It should raise awareness of the problems around a particular issue and give the government some positive feedback on their efforts to take action on it. It may even produce some previously unconsidered or unthought of policy solutions, unconditioned by the received wisdom of the mandarins. Giving people ownership of their own problems and a say in how they are resolved will almost certainly lead to the development of the civic virtue that has so evidently been in decline since the Cold War ended. People might even start voting again.

            Sovereignty belongs to the people. I am no longer prepared to surrender it totally to politicians between elections. I want some of mine back. If they're forced to share power with me, perhaps politicians will stop their partisan bickering and get to work.

    • Yeah, and how many provinces actually want labour mobility?

      • Both the ones who have surplus labour and the ones who have labour shortages. That about covers all of them, wouldn't you say ?

  16. sp. their

  17. I simply don't understand why it's only now that these proposals are being plopped on the table. The opposition parties could have – and should have – made them months ago instead of wasting months on reducing the eligibility requirements.

    The Liberals have been appallingly badly advised on this file. If they can't do better than that, then they might want to revisit their slogan.

    • I agree. Iggy drew a line in the sand over a proposal that Harper correctly assessed would never pass muster with voters. Iggy eventually assessed that, too.

    • I think everyone can be blamed for engaging in bad-faith debate. This policy is based on a report on EI reform produced last year. That the government left it on a shelf all spring, all summer during the Liberal-CPC panel process to spring it on their opponents now is 'playing games', even if it is good policy. I think it's a reasonable policy, and I think it's a shame that we waited a year to implement it. It could have greatly helped the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs in the past few months.

      • I agree here, the fact that reasonable EI reforms took this long to come forth is the fault of all parties, Liberal, NDP and Conservative.

        However, better late than never. If a party, any party, can bring up some real solutions now, I'm sure I won't be alone in looking on them more favourably.

        • Unfortunately, I have a hard time getting past the cynicism. I'm willing to bet that the CPC are only introducing this as a poison pill for the Liberals. I doubt we would have seen this policy without threat of impending defeat.

          • I don't care why it's come forth, only that it has and may be implemented. It's better than what the other parties are offering, that's all there is to it. I'd rather see intelligent discussion and compromise between the parties create a way forward, but political coersion works fine too.

            The only thing that would concern me was if this was an empty promise, but I don't see that happening – the Conservatives would have to follow through or we'd be right back in the same position very quickly, with an extra point against the Conservatives. They're crafty, but not stupid.

          • I heard that psychopaths are crafty. Stupidity need not enter into any decision to make it a bad one.

          • Wow, the cynicism does run deep…

            It's even beside the point – if the Cons are psychopaths, they'll still do things that are pleasing to those who they're trying to manipulate (the voting population), meaning they'd still have to follow through on these promises or risk exposure and rejection.

          • The evidence (Fortier, income trusts, softwood lumber, health care wait times, free votes in parliament, fixed election dates) suggests that you're mistaken on the need for follow through.

          • The evidence (Fortier, income trusts, softwood lumber, health care wait times, free votes in parliament, fixed election dates, etc.) suggests that you're mistaken on the need for follow through.

          • They never put those ideas front-and-center amongst nothing, as they are with the EI reform. This is a political move designed to undercut the rhetoric of the opposition parties and executing it only furthers that goal. They didn't follow through on the other things because they would either be difficult to execute or they would run against their chances for political gain – this is easy to get through the house and makes the Cons look better.

            This EI reform, in some form, will be introduced and, unless both the NDP and Liberals have lost their political marbles, it'll get through.

          • I guess the question is: does one good policy make up for dozens of bad ones, like cutting the GST instead of income taxes, or mandatory minimum sentences, or scrapping the gun registry, or their plan to impose a byzantine cap and trade system, etc. And this is one good policy, designed to buy them another year in office so they can implement some more bad policy whoppers.

          • I dunno. I think the question is whether or not it gets implemented. I don't see the logic for defeating a sensible policy proposal as payback for past errors. For example, the proper remedy for the GST cut is to reverse it.

          • I'm not suggesting that we punish for past bad policies. I'm warning that getting one good policy may cost more bad ones in the future, if the government is granted another year.

          • One more reason to re-elect Conservatives. Good policies.

          • What, like creating a structural deficit before the recession even hit ? Or trying to introduce a deflationary budget in the face of a possible massive deflation ? What planet did you just arrive from ?

          • You keep saying these things, but repeating them doesnt make it true. Especially the deficit part. The deficit showed up in the government accounts in the first quarter of this year….the government actually made it through 2008 without a deficit.

            I believe most people would say that it was the follow up budget that introduced the potential for a structural deficit. I actually wish it was clear that we had gone that far then we could all feel good about saying that there must be tax increases and or spending cuts. They cut it so close to the line that there is a reasonable debate. But wasnt that the policy goal?

            As for the original budget/FU….please define inflationary budget, deflationary budget and inflation nuetral budget so we can have some sense of what you mean by your terms.

          • Repeating it doesn't make it true. It's true because it's true.

          • No, one good policy does not make up for dozens of bad ones, but I'm not suggesting that it does. I'm saying that I'll look more favourably (more being the key word here – it's all relative) on a party that does suggest, support or implement effective EI reform, and I don't particularly care about the motivation behind it.

            Anyway, this may all be pointless – from other news reports, wage insurance doesn't seem to be central to the plan, perhaps not in it at all, and that's the piece I was most enthusiastic about.

          • It's like working for a company that will only give you a raise if you threaten to leave

    • It all goes back to the Liberal strategy 'Harper gets to wear the recession'.
      Opps drag their feet, Senate drag their feet…..poof, Harper can't make this parliament work time for a Liberal government.

      • Srsly, what's the Senate dragging its feet on?

  18. You have no evidence whatsoever that the Senate is dragging its feet on anything. Total red-herring. Shame.

  19. DISUNITE THE RIGHT!

    • Hey Tguy , when did you make it back from purgitory? Welcome back!

      • "Tguy" is not the same guy you're thinking of, kc.

    • They do try. Success is addictive though, and you'll have to get past me.

  20. If they want to have an election on this demand more, if not, then vote for it and have an election anyway.

    • Yeah, if this is what it takes for Harper to make good policy.

  21. Lie back and think of Canada!

  22. MP's can vote for or against or not at all. My guess is that the opposition side will become an off-leash park this fall. This is of course until polls change. They always change.

  23. What I find bizarre about the Conservatives is that while they are moderate when it comes to governing, they have this ass-holish bluster that makes people continue to believe that they are still red meat conservatives. This legislation is a good example of how the "Harper is so right wing I'm gonna die if he is in power one more day" crowd is incredibly out to lunch.

    I mean could somebody make the case for me that Harper is actually right wing? In what way might he be considered to the right of say Chretien, if we are looking at his record and not his posturing?

    • It's not the blustery a**holery that makes me distrust the CPC, it's their willingness to turn on a dime and do the exact opposite of what one had been led to expect. This weird EI thing being a case in point. It just doesn't make me think these guys are capable of being straightforward; not a right-left thing, just a question of good governance and being able to respect the Government's integrity. And I'd have said exactly the same of Paul Martin. Anyway, as to the crowd you call out, image counts.

      • "I mean could somebody make the case for me that Harper is actually right wing? In what way might he be considered to the right of say Chretien, if we are looking at his record and not his posturing?"

        It's not up to the rest of us to explain Harper to you.

  24. I agree with Jack: I could, reluctantly, live with the right-wing posturing if the Conservatives were actually doing a good job of governing. But they're not.

    These Conservatives seem obsessed with power at the expense of governing. In some cases – the GST cuts are a prime example – they have introduced legislation whose sole purpose is to benefit themselves politically, regardless of the effect that it has on the country. And they have gone so far as to try to cripple, if not eliminate, their opposition with the attempt to reduce public financing of political parties. (Does Harper really want a one-party state?)

    There seems to be no correlation at all between what they say they'll do and what they actually do. (The fixed election date is a prime example of that.) Their public statements seem to be designed to maximize the short term gain for themselves. And they have showed a total unwillingness to attempt to work with the opposition on anything (except, memorably, on Afghanistan). Harper, in particular, seems to act as if it is grossly impertinent of the Liberals, the NDP and the Senate to keep standing in his way.

    To top it all off, the Conservatives are openly widening regional and cultural divides in this country in an attempt to capture swing votes.

    Is it any wonder that Ignatieff has decided that he cannot work with this party any more?

  25. I agree with Jack: I could, reluctantly, live with the right-wing posturing if the Conservatives were actually doing a good job of governing. But they're not.

    These Conservatives seem obsessed with power at the expense of governing. In some cases – the GST cuts are a prime example – they have introduced legislation whose sole purpose is to benefit themselves politically, regardless of the effect that it has on the country. And they have gone so far as to try to cripple, if not eliminate, their opposition with the attempt to reduce public financing of political parties. (Does Harper really want a one-party state?)

    There seems to be no correlation at all between what they say they'll do and what they actually do. (The fixed election date law is a prime example of that.) Their public statements seem to be designed to maximize the short term gain for themselves; they're temporary expedients, to be discarded or revised as needed. And they have showed a total unwillingness to attempt to work with the opposition on anything (except, memorably, on Afghanistan). Harper, in particular, seems to act as if it is grossly impertinent of the Liberals, the NDP and the Senate to keep standing in his way.

    To top it all off, the Conservatives are openly widening regional and cultural divides in this country in an attempt to capture swing votes.

    Is it any wonder that Ignatieff has decided that he cannot work with this party any more?

  26. So, we're supposed to believe that the Liberals walked out on the EI panel on Sept. 3 (9 days ago) as it was discussing the 'enhancements' now being proposed by Harper?

  27. I could, reluctantly, live with the right-wing posturing if the Conservatives were actually doing a good job of governing. But they're not.

    These Conservatives seem obsessed with power at the expense of governing. In some cases – the GST cuts are a prime example – they have introduced legislation whose sole purpose is to benefit themselves politically, regardless of the effect that it has on the country. And they have gone so far as to try to cripple, if not eliminate, their opposition with the attempt to reduce public financing of political parties. (Does Harper really want a one-party state?)

    There seems to be no correlation at all between what they say they'll do and what they actually do. (The fixed election date law is a prime example of that.) Their public statements seem to be designed to maximize the short term gain for themselves; they're temporary expedients, to be discarded or revised as needed. And they have showed a total unwillingness to attempt to work with the opposition on anything (except, memorably, on Afghanistan). Harper, in particular, seems to act as if it is grossly impertinent of the Liberals, the NDP and the Senate to keep standing in his way.

    To top it all off, the Conservatives are openly widening regional and cultural divides in this country in an attempt to capture swing votes.

    Is it any wonder that Ignatieff has decided that he cannot work with this party any more?

    • no correlation at all between what they say they'll do and what they actually do

      seem obsessed with power at the expense of governing

      public statements seem to be designed to maximize the short term gain for themselves

      openly widening regional and cultural divides in this country in an attempt to capture swing votes

      Yes, it sure is appalling and unprecedented, all right. I, for one, look forward to a change in government, as Liberals have and will never consider doing any of these things under any circumstances.

    • no correlation at all between what they say they'll do and what they actually do

      seem obsessed with power at the expense of governing

      public statements seem to be designed to maximize the short term gain for themselves

      openly widening regional and cultural divides in this country in an attempt to capture swing votes

      Yes, it sure is appalling and unprecedented, all right. I, for one, look forward to a change in government, as Liberals have never done and will never consider doing any of these things under any circumstances.

      • My contention is that the Liberals, while not exactly as pure as the driven snow, don't seem as single-mindedly focused on power as the Conservatives.

        What the hey: if the Liberals turn out to be as bad as the Conservatives, maybe we can all go Green. Or revive the Rhinoceros Party.

      • "But mom.. they do it too!"
        Yeah, that makes it all better.

    • The fact that you're from Toronto helps explain your commentary.

      • And you don't, so you're clearly smarter than the rest of us, right ?

  28. These proposals are all opportunities for fraud and abuse, particularly the wage inusurance. The more complicated the system becomes, the easier it will be to defraud it or find loopholes or abouse it.

    People will start hiring but paying a large portion of salaries under the table, so that people can work and collect EI at the same time. And it will be very hard to uncover such a scam. Who's to day that payment was a bonus and not a Christmas gift? Who's to say that company car is not in fact a company car but an employee's car?

    • Excellent, now the self-appointed mouthpiece of the Conservative Party of Canada says that people on pogey are all cheats, liars and swindlers. If that doesn't make it clear what the Conservatives really think of the unemployed, nothing will.

      • If you'd care to point me to where "opportunities for fraud and abuse" and "people will [game the system]" equals "people on pogey are ALL [emphasis mine] cheats, liars and swindlers," I would very much appreciate it.

  29. You simply have to have to hand it to the PM as his ability to position himself and his party and at the same time get things done for canadians is truly impressive. I can't believe he is still sitting in the PM's chair. Iggy walking out on the EI panel and refusing to discuss anything but the hours issue makes him look like fool, but then sometimes appearances aren't deceiving. Harpers understanding of how our system works and how to get things done is far and away above that of his opponents at present, it is as if he has a majority. I almost feel sorry for the LPT right now. In a few days Harper gets all the love from Obama at the whitehouse and that ought to stir up the looney left nest. ROFL!

    • Harper has the longest running minority government in Canadian history.

  30. The Liberals backed themselves into a corner when Ignatieff announced his intention to topple the government ASAP. Now the Conservatives are applying some pressure: sweeten things just enough that the Liberals want to vote for them, but not enough to cancel out the face-loss if they reverse course and support the government.

    It's good tactics. Once your opponent has chosen a direction from which he can't deviate without great cost, make that direction as costly as possible without exceeding the cost of deviating from it.

  31. The Liberals backed themselves into a corner when Ignatieff announced his intention to topple the government ASAP. Now the Conservatives are applying some pressure: sweeten things just enough that the Liberals want to vote for them, but not enough to cancel out the face-loss if they reverse course and support the government.

    It's good tactics. Once your opponent has chosen a direction from which he can't deviate without great cost, make that direction as painful as possible without exceeding the price of changing his mind.

    • Nobody cares about the election back down, per se……what will catch them is shifts in policy or double talk, like, "spend more faster but keep the deficit down…"

      Iggy can back off the election talk anytime and nobody, outside of the press gallery or the sunlight challenged here will care.

      Dion didnt get lambasted in those ads for voting with the government, he got lambasted for bad presentation, bad policy and not being able to set a direction "easy making priorities" (this had nothing to do with election stuff)

      But if Iggy wants an election at this time, that his choice.

      • If Ignatieff backs down he will forever be branded, fairly or unfairly, as a flip-flopper. As this would be the public's first major impression of him I doubt he'd recover.

        • He already is branded a flip flopper. On-off on the coalition, Off-on asbestos, On-off numerous ultimatims to Harper, On-off election threats. And throw in caving to Danny's 6…….not ready for prime time.

  32. Given that we political junkies like to analyze these things from all sides, I wonder if the NDP is doing nothing more than positioning themselves as wanting Parliament to work before it all comes crumbling down anyhow. I've argued that it's stability that will be an overriding ballox box question in any upcoming election. And maybe Jack knows that, too.

  33. No election then?

  34. The Doer Strategy, part 2.

  35. If Mr. Coyne proves correct and there is no election this year, then Iggy and his strategists have just been proved to be geniuses:
    Without triggering an election they have escaped the "grand coalition" the Liberals allowed themselves to get bullied into for the past three years.

  36. "Layton called on the party leaders to “put some of these partisan considerations — the focus on how many seats you've got, how large your caucus is, and so on — aside and instead get results for people that are in need.” "

    We all know who is currently having performance anxiety.

    • Are you suggesting PMSH is a hermaphrodite?

      • Now I understand why everybody is saying we can't have an election during the Olympics. What event is he competing in ?

  37. I'm pretty sure this is just an NDP attempt to show canadians that Harper really doesn't want to cooperate one last time before the election campaign starts. In that sense, it's a clever move.

    • Too clever for Jack, I'm afraid

  38. EI reforms was one of Iggy's "conditions" for supporting the Conservative govt. Yet, his team left the process before anything was agreed on.

    I have to agree with Harper. 360 hours is far too little work to qualify for EI.

    I would like to see the standard two week waiting period eliminated. But I wouldn't vote against these changes because that isn't there.

    The Liberals and the NDP will both look bad voting against these changes as well.

  39. The conventional wisdom is Harper is eager for an election, since the economy has hit bottom, and he can run on the recovery he has created. This is simply not the case. Come October it will be obvious there is no bottom in sight, let alone a recovery. US and China are entering a trade war. China is not going to pay the American banks for derivatives. Its going to heck and a hand basket out there.

    Harper does not want an election, and will sell his soul to stave one off. The only reason Jack doesn't want an election is he has no campaign ready. However, he will not be put in the position of propping up Harper until its obvious the economy has gone off a cliff. It would be disasterous for his party. His best strategy is to let the Liberals have a minority win ASAP, and then campaign next year that they're not radical enough a shift from Harper to fix this country.

    • How will MI respond during the election campaign, when what ever policy he presents, Harper can rightfully question whether it is a policy that the coalition partners will agree on AFTER the election?

      Jack's #1 campaign policy 'no corporate tax cuts'…gone in the coalition agreement
      Dion's #1 campaign policy 'the GreenShift'…..gone in the coalition agreement
      Duceppe got a promise that……… we just don't know for sure what bought Duceppe's signature.
      A coalition government is about as far away from MIs 'think big' as it gets.

      So I doubt the timing of the next election really concerns Harper, the 'coalition theme' will play out when ever the next one is.

  40. BTW: We know you like large caucuses Mr. Coyne. No need to put it in bold. This is 2009, Canada. You can get married and all. Its not a high school lockerroom joke, anymore.

  41. Andrew Coyne: hehe, he said caucus. Mike Judge's infamous Butthead: hehehehehehehehe

  42. I wonder if the Conservative plan is to make the Liberals think there is an imminent election, get them to spend millions on what they think are pre-election ads, and then avoid an election.

    • I was wondering this as well – while the Liberals have improved their fundraising ability – it is still no match for the CPC and the LPC had/has huge debts to pay. The LPC may have put all their money into the pot without any cards that are worth playing. People can protest that we need to focus on good governance, but the game is still politics.

  43. One can be sure that PM Harper is playing the Liberals like a fiddle.

    And they are to much in love with POWER to notice the plan of the Conservatives. Jac Layton will vote in favor of the Govt's proposal to enhance E.I. If not an election will put an end to the excistence of the NDP.

  44. It seems to me that after parliament was prorogued, Jack announced he would vote against the Conservative budget with out even reading it first
    Hmm….
    C'mon Jack be a man
    Do you think Stephen has fotgotten those words, Jack?

  45. It seems to me that after parliament was prorogued, Jack announced he would vote against the Conservative budget without even reading it first
    Hmm….
    C'mon Jack be a man
    Do you think Stephen has forgotten those words, Jack?

  46. I'm getting sick of this kind of politics. In fact, a Judge wonse warned me by saying, "you must notify your Parole Officer three days before even mentioning the word 'coaliton' ", is anyone esle out there as upset as me?

  47. HELP WANTED: Parliamentary Parole Officer

    AVAILABILITY: Immediate replacement of surprise abdication

    QUALIFICATIONS: Ability to tut-tut about misbehaviours without actually doing anything substantive to modify parolee's behaviour. Ability to report to superior quarterly on parolee's status. Given name of Jack.

    BENEFITS: Continued occupancy of post, commensurate with quarterly report that maintains current status of parolee.

    APPLY WITH CV AND REFERENCES TO: Outgoing parole officer, Hon. M. Ignatieff, Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

  48. HELP WANTED: Parliamentary Parole officer

    AVAILABILITY: Immediate replacement of surprise abdication

    QUALIFICATIONS: Ability to tut-tut about misbehaviours without actually doing anything substantive to modify parolee's behaviour. Ability to report to superior quarterly on parolee's status. Given name of Jack.

    BENEFITS: Continued occupancy of post, commensurate with quarterly report that maintains current status of parolee.

    APPLY WITH CV AND REFERENCES TO: Outgoing parole officer, Hon. M. Ignatieff, Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

  49. this is an intresting situation for sure,
    we have a situation where all 3 parties are playing chicken,
    2 possible outcomes
    1) NDP say no and force an election, tories lable them partisan and smear them, conservatives have to get a majority or they are in trouble because 3 minorities in a row starts to get tireing, the liberals are in the strongest postion because iggy has proved that he means bussiness by refusing to support EI,
    2) the deadlock passes and the conservatives/NDP are labled the saviors of the government, and iggy runs back into his corner to feel sorry for himself

  50. I don't know how logical people such as yourself can keep it together covering the illogical world of Canadian politics… they don't even try to make the puzzle pieces fit anymore.

  51. GAMES! GAMES! GAMES!