UPDATED AGAIN: Hark! Is that the rare, sweet sound of parliament working?

Is peace about to break out?

According to the Globe and Mail, peace may be about to break out in the House of Commons:

The four parties in the House of Commons are nearing a deal to fast track the government’s new employment-insurance legislation and put it to its first vote as early as Friday.

Government House Leader Jay Hill invited his Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois counterparts to a closed door meeting just after noon to discuss the government bill, which was officially introduced in the House of Commons Wednesday afternoon.

The Liberals announced Thursday morning that they are offering to pass the bill quickly, in the hope of taking away the NDP’s stated reason for keeping the Conservatives in office for the short term.

“We don’t want to give Mr. Layton any alibis,” Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said.

Following the meeting, NDP House Leader Libby Davies told The Globe and Mail that all sides are close to a deal and that negotiations are expected to continue throughout the day. […]

Will the much-anticipated EI reform bill make it through the House in time to allow the NDP to vote its conscience on the next confidence motion to come before the House? Tune in later today to find out!

UPDATE: No deal — yet. During his traditional response to the Thursday question, Jay Hill told the House that he had called a meeting of house leaders following the motions from the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois earlier today, and had been “hopeful” that they would have worked something out by now, but “one of the parties” is still looking at the offer currently on the table, which would send the bill to committee by Friday afternoon.


Okay. so here’s what I was able to glean from a brief post-QP foray to the foyer: The party holding up the deal to finish up with second reading by tomorrow afternoon is …. drum roll … the Bloc Quebecois! No, Duceppe hasn’t suddenly been seized with a case of the electoral vapors; it may actually be a very clever move.

If the bill goes to committee next week,  the Bloc can issue an open invite to Quebec union leaders to come forth and voice their near universal outrage over the paucity of the proposed measures, thus fortifying the party against any future accusation that they failed to stand up for unemployed Quebeckers  — and since the House wasn’t scheduled to sit anyway, it’s not like it would drag out the process; the bill could, in theory, be reported back the following Monday, and make it through third reading by Wednesday afternoon, make a brief stop in the Other Place for a sober second look, and be primed and ready for Royal Assent by the end of the week.

Depending on when the government tables the final stimulus update — which has to happen sometime during the week of September 28th, according to the June agreement — that could, in theory, allow the NDP to vote against the government when the Liberal confidence motion drops two days later.

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