What exactly is the disagreement here?


Diane Finley, today. “Over the summer we’ve been conducting meetings on EI and Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberal members have publicly stated they are not willing to move off their 360 hour entry point for Employment Insurance,” she said, describing the position as “academic fantasy land.”

Pierre Poilievre, Friday“The bottom line is we’re not going to be supporting the notion that someone could collect EI for almost a year after working only 360 hours or nine weeks,” Poilievre said in an interview Friday. “All the costing shows that a nine-week work year would cost billions and the only way to fund it is through higher taxes, so we can’t support that proposal.”

Michael Ignatieff, Thursday“I’ve always indicated a certain flexibility on 360 but not that much,” Ignatieff said. “So we’re going to have some tough discussions with the government.”

Michael Ignatieff, last monthThe Liberals have been pressing for a uniform eligibility standard and had initially been advocating a system in which anyone who works 360 hours would qualify for EI. Now, Mr. Ignatieff has indicated that as long as the reform provides some fairness and equity, he’s willing to negotiate with the governing Tories as they strive to reach a deal before Parliament returns in late September.


What exactly is the disagreement here?

  1. It's not a disagreement, it's negotiations. If 360 hours is too little and 700 too much, where's the compromise?

    “I've always indicated a certain flexibility on 360 but not that much,”

    But not that much…what does that mean? 400 hours?

    • One assumes the compromise is exactly what the blue ribbon panel should have been discussing the past few weeks.

      Clearly Finley is lining up her talking points for the fall election. The one her husband is going to use the wafer story to raise funds for. You know, our annual see-steve-in-blue-sweaters festival.

      • Or they're laying the ground work for their position in the negotiations. Just like Ignatieff's comment…"but not that much".

        The end result from this will likely be a median number of hours and no more regional qualifications. The only answer we're waiting on is the number.

        Just my opinion.

        • I'd tend to agree.
          What's perverse, though, is that these are not labour negotiations. Both sides should be looking at what's best for everyone/the country as a whole; that involves fact finding and interpretation, and some idea of where we want to go. While the last two (and maybe a little of the first) have potential for disagreement, the appearance that from the start that the panel is divided — that each half already knows where it wants to go and will "study" and "investigate" only to suit that end — is appalling. There is no reason to presume (except b/c of it's makeup…) that the panel can't come up with a good consensus solution that is born of the facts, as opposed to a compromise….

    • ''But not that much…what does that mean? 400 hours?''

      It means that if MIs numbers go up….Harper asked for too much.
      If MIs numbers stay or go down….what ever Harper tosses out is just enough to stop and election.

      Fence sitting.

  2. The only disagreement between the two parties right now is the size of the bone that Stevie will throw to Iggy. I hate to state the obvious but poth parties are waiting to see what the landscape looks like in the fall. I can imagine conservative strategy will be to increase the size of the bone in direct proportion to how bad things look for them and as to whether or not it might pay to ask the NDP or BLOC for a slot on the dance card. Then again I can imagine Iggy demanding a bigger bone if he thinks numbers are on his side. I mean really folks how much do you want to bet that neither one of them wants an election in the fall as Jack and Gilles are still putting the squeeze on Iggy and all of them will fire any ammunition they have at Harper. So what do we have – if Steven is feeling generous a grand compromise will occur at the last moment and Iggy can claim victory and justification for making parliamant work and Jack and Gilles not walking up the hill to fetch a pail as it were!

  3. Evidence that Diane Finley never lets the truth get in the way of a slobbering partisan attack (from the G&M):

    “Over the summer we've been conducting meetings on EI and Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberal members have publicly stated they are not willing to move off their 360 hour entry point for Employment Insurance,” she said, describing the position as “academic fantasy land.” … When a reporter noted that Mr. Ignatieff had in fact said he was flexible on that point, Ms. Finley said the Liberal position seems to change from week to week.

    Yet Iggy has been saying for at least a month that he's flexible so long as the new EI standards are equitable. I guess Diane just can't help herself.

    • maybe she can't read… the Globe?

  4. Over the summer … Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberal members have publicly stated they are not willing to move off their 360 hour entry point

    Is Diane Finley lying? Your quotes suggest she is.

    • That's clearly a lie, but I think what's really going on here is that the Conservatives want the Liberals to come to the table with a different starting point for negiotiations. They're basically saying "360 hours is way off; try something else and we'll talk". The Liberals have obvious not brought any alternative proposal to the table.

      On the one hand this could be seen as the Conservatives unfairly trying to get the Liberals to negotiate with themselves. On the other hand the Conservatives were very upfront before the blue ribbon panel that they thought the 360 hour standard was totally unacceptable to them, so perhaps they genuinely think it's fair to expect the Liberals to be the ones to put forward an alternate plan.

  5. Make it 360, but pay EI only in proportion to the time worked. You can't claim a year of EI for 9 weeks work? make it 9 weeks EI coverage. Prorate this to some kind of important watermark, e.g. 700 hours to claim one year EI (which I still find reprehensible, but that's the situation we're in now).

    If the Liberals think they can turn an election into a majority, they'll scuttle whatever talks are going on. If, as it looks today, no one is headed for anything but a minority, they'll probably grab the olive branch and proclaim victory.

    I'm sure this is all worked out. They're just meeting for the purposes of posturing at the moment. Surely this isn't rocket science.

    • The thing is, the idea that the Libs are demanding that 360 hours worked = 1 year of benefits is, as far as I can tell, a Poilievrian fabrication.

      Indeed, if there was an area of the program where it would make the most sense to vary generosity on the basis of regional unemployment numbers, it should be the number of weeks you get benefits for, not the number of hours worked beforehand. Theoretically, a laid-off worker should be able to find new work in less time if he or she was in, say, Saskatoon, than they would in Ste.-Derrière, New Brunswick. Love it or jate it, it does at least have a logic to it. The current system, however, implies that the financial shock of being laid off from a job you held for six months is so substantially different in those locations that in one case you merit full benefits and the other none.

  6. I don't see any numbers out the Tories.

  7. You wouldn't know by the chatter from the government side of the house, but it already IS prorated.

  8. While no defender of Ignatieff, it looks to me like Finley and Poilievre have adopted Harper's Italian Strategy of attributing to Ignatieff statements he didn't make.

  9. This panel is going to make the U.S. legislative process on health care reform seem collegial and evidence-based by comparison.

  10. All due respect, The Minister of Human resources Dian Finley should be fired !

    • Absolutely right. I happen to know they discriminate against older workers. I saw a show on global TV about it on July 28. all jobs seem to be for age thirty and under. They refused people EI that were two hours short where unemployment is highest and I even heard about a new mom that was layed of during her pregnancy leave and she didn't get any help!

  11. Well, the dear lady is thick enough to say that EI payments are "lucrative".

    So I assume she's trying to negotiate them downward.

  12. Willing to be flexible, but "not that much".

    Flexible or "not much" flexibility, whatever way the political winds happen to be blowing on any given day, I guess.

  13. What? No cut and paste from the Liberal home page yet today?

    You must be sleeping in Aaron.