Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The wary Mr. Cullen!

While talk of the mighty coalition of Ottawa has cooled off of late, especially with the Liberals having anointed a new savior of their own internally, one has to wonder if the NDP dream of having a say in the governance of the nation may have slipped by.

That however doesn’t seem to be the case as far as Nathan Cullen is concerned, the MP for Skeena-Bulkley valley is still of the impression that the coalition is strong and will continue on with Michael Ignatieff now in charge of the coalition partner Liberals.

While the head office of the party works on their next move, the MP’s are back in their ridings seeking out the impressions of their constituents and offering up their own thoughts of the drama of late November and early December in the Nation’s capital.

Like his fellow MP’s, Cullen is back in the vast tract of land that is his electoral home and he has been busy offering up his impressions of the latest on the federal political scene.

High on his list are his thoughts on the trustworthiness of the Prime Minister, and judging by his commentary to the Daily News on Monday, as far as Cullen is concerned, there apparently isn’t a lot there to trust.

You can’t trust Harper contends MP
Nathan Cullen claims the Prime Minister has already broken his word
The Daily News
Monday, December 15, 2008
Pages one and five

Nathan Cullen said he wonders when Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to start telling the truth.

Responding to the CBC's one-on-one interviews featuring Harper, NDP leader Jack Layton and newly minted Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, last week, the NDP Skeena-Bulkley MP said he didn't agree that his party had switched tactics as it relates to the autumn budget update.

Cullen said comments by CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge that his party has switched from complaining about the elimination of tax subsidies parties receive to the Conservative government's mishandling of the economy to it now being a matter of trust was curious.

"I didn't quite know what Peter (Mansbridge) was getting at," said Cullen, who is now back in the Pacific Northwest after Harper prorogued government last week.

Responding to the Prime Minister's comments that the coalition had not brought any ideas forward to him to be considered for the finance update, Cullen said that the NDP had a one and-a-half hour meeting with Prime Minister to outline what it wanted to see from the federal government.

The Northwest MP also claimed that the announcement of 18 new Conservative senate seats proved the tories were stuck in a web of campaign promises that would go unfulfilled.

During the past election, on Oct. 6, Harper promised senate reform by reintroducing bills that would establish eight-year terms for senators and allow senators to be nominated for approval by the prime minister through provincial votes, said Cullen.

"On Thursday the Prime Minster went back on his word and said he plans to install senators just as his predecessor Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin had.

"(Harper) is the same fellow in one breath says work with me, trust me and in the second breath breaks one of the most cherished promises that he talked about less than 30 days ago," said Cullen.

On Ignatieff, Cullen said he expects the new liberal leader to be a constructive partner for the NDP, and expects that the coalition between the NDP, Liberal party and Bloc Quebecoise would still be on the table.

He also said that any assumption that the new Liberal leader would be softer on the Conservatives was missive at best.

"I was told he was cold about the coalition but his comments since becoming leader is that (coalition) option is still very much at play and you know we'll judge him by his actions and not his words," said Cullen.

As for the senate, it appears to be a number game.

There are 105 members in the senate and currently seating is by appointment only. The Canadian Governor-General is the maitre d' of the senate but she books seats based on advice from the senate. Generally seats are assigned on a regional basis.

Currently, there are 50 Liberal party senators compared Conservatives.

B.C. might be the most underrepresented province in the senate with only six senators compared to 10 for Nova Scotia and 10 for New Brunswick. That breaks down to one senator for every 685,000 people in B.C., compared to one senator for every 91,000 people in Nova Scotia and one senator for every 73,000 people in New Brunswick.

Such senator appointments had Cullen claiming that the prime minister does not have B.C.'s interests at heart.

"Harper's greatest character flaw is that he is not forthright with what he actually wants to do and so if he says he is going to spend money on fishing or forestry the trust issue has to be there because he has shown himself to be untrustworthy," said Cullen.

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