Thursday, September 17, 2009

EI support in Parliament could help keep some MP’s away from the unemployment lines for a little while longer…

All those hot election rumours of but a week ago are as cold as a January morning in Manitoba today, this after the NDP joined up with Bloc Quebecois to offer support to the governing Conservative party, taking away the drama of Friday's potential high noon drama and thus removing the danger of Canadians having to head off to the polls this fall, for the time being anyways.

The Bloc was the first to take the plunge with the Conservatives, offering up the rather lucid advice (lucid for politicians at any rate) that they would be idiots to not back a program which they had been insisting be put in place.

With Gilles Duceppe taking on the role of guarantor of Parliament for a little while longer, Jack Layton was quick to throw his hat in with Stephen Harper as well, not wanting to be on the wrong side of a vote that provides for $1-billion in spending to expand Employment Insurance benefits for what are considered long-tenured workers.

The coalition of the less than comfortable campers, for now at least, will temper that boundless enthusiasm that Michael Ignatieff seemed to have come upon for a federal election.

And while his party members would probably be loathe to admit it, but they should consider sending a lovely fruit basket or floral arrangement to Mr. Duceppe, for perhaps saving them the embarrassing fate of losing yet another round of battle with their nemesis in the Conservative party.

Recent polling has shown that the Liberals were trailing the Conservatives by a rather sizable margin and for the most part it would have been Ignatieff and the Liberals who would bear the brunt of the electorate’s anger at having to trundle off to the polling stations once again.

Mr. Ignatieff hasn’t quite stirred the hearts of Canadians yet, and the danger was that if the Liberals forced an election, then the Harper Conservatives very well may have formed a majority government.

With a bullet dodged for now, the Liberals can now claim the high ground in the debate over the parliamentary agenda, freed of their past responsibility of propping up the minority government, but at least also free of watching helplessly as the Conservatives reaped what was shaping up to be a political backlash against the current status of Parliament.

Instead, they now can concentrate on offering up constructive alternatives to what the Conservatives have provided in governance thus far, all leading up to Budget Day in early 2010. The Budget which usually comes down in February or March could prove to be the catalyst for our eventual trip to the polls.

Many political observers suspect that when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty offers up that financial blue print it will be found unacceptable by the opposition, which of course will suggest that for the good of the nation we need to seek a confirmation from the Canadian people.

Unless of course, consensus with the new friends the Bloc and NDP will once again prove to be a workable position for the Conservatives to adopt. A prospect that probably leaves Mr. Harper as fearful as it does Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton.

On the other side of the House, we suspect that the Liberals will cross their fingers and hope that the next election provides a majority, lest we keep replaying these Groundhog Days of Parliament.

Globe and Mail-- Harper's reluctant coalition
Globe and Mail-- A coalition it is not
Globe and Mail-- Some work- and some peace and quiet
Globe and Mail-- Why the Harper government flunks the Reagan litmus test
National Post-- Layton pulls Ignatieff back from the cliff edge
National Post-- Ignatieff feasts on Layton's turkey
National Post-- Liberals mutter darkly over Ignatieff election bravado
Toronto Star-- Time to make Minority work
Toronto Star-- Layton reaps what he has sown
Toronto Star-- NDP can expect a bumpy ride with Stephen Harper

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