Thank goodness that’s over


Senate signs off on stimulus plan

Jobless Canadians became a political football Thursday as Liberals agreed to fast-track the federal budget implementation bill through the Senate.

Until Thursday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff had steadfastly resisted government demands to speed the bill through the Grit-dominated upper house this week.

But he reversed course abruptly Thursday, announcing that senators would rush the bill through an immediate final vote in a bid to ensure unemployed workers get access to enhanced Employment Insurance benefits…

So ends the phony war over the budget — about the phoniest phony war in the history of phoniness. Given that both major parties were agreed on the budget, the only thing they could find to disagree on was who wanted to pass it fastest. This they set to with a will, each accusing the other of holding up its passage.

But of course. As both parties had invested so heavily in the idea that the budget was all that stood between this country and Utter Ruin, so both were obliged to pretend that there was nothing more urgent than passing it into law — at the height of the madness, that the fate of the country hinged on whether a particular $3-billion spending envelope was pushed out the door this instant, or was delayed for a few days until the government could tell Parliament what it was for.

But there was only so far that this could be pushed. The Liberals, especially, having earlier won the battle in forcing the Conservatives to adopt a Liberal budget, were in danger of losing the (phony) war. For having endorsed the budget, and the miraculous healing properties claimed for it, they could hardly afford to be seen to obstruct it. Hence today’s fairly ignominious climbdown, following the “discovery” by a Liberal Senator that the extension of employment insurance benefits contained in the budget was retroactive to two weeks before its passage.

Why this should matter, in logic, is unclear: whenever you passed it, it would still be retroactive the same two weeks. But the political consequences were clear, and potentially deadly. As Michael Ignatieff so eloquently put it, “no Liberal will ever stand between a Canadian who stands in need of Employment Insurance and the benefits they need.” And that was that.


Thank goodness that’s over

  1. Logic? LOGIC? You dare come here at this time and offer up LOGIC?
    We don’t need no steenkin’ LOGIC!!!!!
    The word of the day/year/decade/millenium is “pragmatic.”
    The thought of the day is of two youngish almost-teens spending all day at school plotting and scheming and back-stabbing and maybe pulling a little hair when noone is looking to be the cool girl’s best-friend-no-I-am-are-not-am-too-well-I’m-nicer-are-not-am-too…

  2. This is why we need to get rid of the Senate.

    • Actually, I think it proves conclusively why we need a national securities regulator.

      • Actually, I’m pretty sure it shows the clear need for a flat tax.


  3. “The Liberals, especially, having earlier won the battle in forcing the Conservatives to adopt a Liberal budget, were in danger of losing the (phony) war.”

    that line is bunk.

    SH loves to talk about ‘taking it to electorate’ ….at least if he thinks he can win.

    • Yes, bunk. Harper himself said the Liberals did not offer any ideas for the budget. Harper is saying HE thinks this budget is important and will help the economy. The Liberals didn’t force Harper to be Prime Minister — he should act like an adult and take responsibility for himself.

  4. Everyone looks bad, the CONs, who supposedly planted this ‘gotcha!’ in the budget but refused to point it out during the past few weeks to underline their request, the Liberals for having glossed over the budget like a under-valued christmas gift and then tried to re-gift without taking the sticker off, and including the media, who also apparently don’t read these documents.
    My partisan ears are naturally drawn to the sly and callous acts of Harper’s henchmen, who seemed to be dialling up their Grewal-esque entrapment skills, but I see where the climb-down is a rebuke for the Liberals and the fairly faux support-but-nonsupport of the budget seems to be pretty thin. What’s the media’s excuse, tho?

  5. How long is this budget document and how difficult was it to find the one item that actually had some money flowing before April if it was passed before then?

    Obviously, when the Liberals get a budget from Harper they should go through it line by line looking for the obscure line that Harper has buried. I agree with dan, that while it is silly for Harper to play such games, everyone knows that he can’t help himself and both the media and the Liberals should have uncovered this earlier.

  6. Here’s a video of Goodale claiming the hefty budget document did not actually budget any money for EI for this fiscal year. Goodale also claims that Flaherty himself could not answer the question posed by Senate of when the EI changes would come into effect.


    Now that the press knows about this unusual provision in the budget, they should be able to explain exactly how obscure it is and whether they or politicians or Senators should have noticed it sooner.

    How about it, Mr. Coyne? Is Harper so clever that it is a miracle anyone found this before April 1st or would you have found it sooner? Because it does seem that, other than this one unusual detail, it would not matter one iota whether the budget was passed yesterday or a couple weeks later.

    • It’s like a pirate movie:

      “First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement so I must do nothing. And secondly, you must be a pirate for the pirate’s code to apply and you’re not. And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss [Catherine] .”
      — Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

      • Catherine — just watched the Newman Menzies portion of the piece. It could be that the Conservatives AND the Liberals were blindsided, one by ignorance (left-hand, right-hand) and the other by laziness.

      • Could be that anyone reading the budget could have seen this – I don’t know and Mr. Coyne is not saying.

        I probably should learn more about the Pirates code to understand Harper. I see yesterday he was talking gobblygook about ethics deriving from faith. I never trust anyone who doesn’t understand that they are personally responsible for their own ethics and morality and it is something they need to actually think about and not something simply to have “faith” about. Harper belongs to a church that believes from “faith” that the universe is 6000 years old and if his only source for ethics, as he implied in his speech yesterday, is from the same source of faith, that would explain a lot about why he behaves so unethically.

  7. “…forcing the Conservatives to adopt a Liberal budget”

    Last Federal Liberal budgets I knew weren’t deficit budgets. This is a Conservative budget, if not a conservative budget. It may be big spending, but it was also a deficit budget long before stimulus was injected. It’s such horsesh**t to call this a “Liberal budget”.

  8. You simply have to admire the genius of it all .. after all you have the usual assortment of Harper haters foaming at the mouth and wondering what the heck just happened. Then you have the Liberal Senators who either way look just plain silly … and when it all comes down to the highway the only leader who has actually helped canadians in difficulty right now and faster than expected is Harper. Evil meanie Stevie gets the budget, the stimulus, the EI extended benefits and all the the other legislation he wants as well all through all passed no amendments and in record time! By the way I see the Lib’s didn’t even have the courage to give a grade to the report card LMAO – Where’s the probation officer … more than likely testing the new flexi-leash as the last one didn’t work well – now they are going to design their own report card – This is just so puerile I love it.

  9. Last I heard, it was the government that originally asked the Senate to pass the budget by the end of March, and the Senate was working to that schedule. The new of these retroactive EI changes only broke this week.

    Unless anyone has any evidence to the contrary, the Conservatives should be wearing this whole fiasco. There’s nothing wrong with the Senate wanting to use the time they have to review the budget as fully as possible.

  10. Dream on Dave, forty six Senators did not show up to vote, wonder which party they were from?

Sign in to comment.