Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iggy and Harper Blink

Meet the new bosses - same as the old bosses:

Official Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff of the Liberals and the Conservative minority government's Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that they had worked out an agreement to avoid a non-confidence vote and summer election.

They blinked. Harper has been trying to seem in control of the parliament, dismissing opposition and coalition criticisms as undemocratic and dangerous to a country in the midst of economic turmoil. (Last year during the Coalition debacle he repeatedly referred to the BLOC as separatists). Here he is now though, hammering out closed door deals with the Liberals. While Iggy has proved true to the traditional Liberal form, consistently propping up the minority government because the polls don't show a strong enough possibility of winning an election. Most polls show a slim lead for the Liberals, but that translates into yet another minority outcome most likely.

I predicted here on the Canada News blog that Ignatieff would cave into the Conservatives rather than using his bargaining position to effect real change for Canadians. At the time NDP Leader Jack Layton referred to Iggy's appoach as the new "Liberal/Conservative Coalition". This weeks announcement of meetings betwwen Harper and the Liberal leader support this view. Ignatieff had held the Conservatives to a reporting schedule when supporting the recent economic stimulus package - that had set the stage for this weeks parliamentary vote on the economic update, a confidence motion. And Iggy had used strong language leading up to the weeks events, claiming in the news that it was almost impossible to trace any actual payments from the stimulus fund. Additionally, he had joined the opposition chorus in denouncing current Employment Insurance policies as unfair and inadequate in the face of massive recession layoffs.

You remember the recession right? Ordinary Canadians are having a hard time dodging the bullets, unlike our firmly ensconced MP's. Plants are closing, whole industries are disappearing - even the blessed few in Rosedale are firing nannies, declaring moratoriums on gala parties and selling their mansions. Working Canadians are increasingly unemployed Canadians, not seeing any immediate benefits from the massive Conservative stimulus package and are concerned about the equally massive (and ballooning) deficit. It's OK to spend bailout billions on bankrupt GM, but not OK to bailout the ordinary working stiff. Iggy could have been the hero here - if he even has it in him - by vigorously pushing the Conservatives and joining the other opposition parties using non-confidence as a way to extract more immediate and effective relief.

But Iggy blinked. The upshot of private meetings with Harper, is an agreement not to defeat the government in return for... study groups!! WTF - Canada needs action, not study, the opposition already has called for easily enacted changes that would bring real relief much sooner. (read the terms of the agreement elsewhere, canayjun is too disgusted to print it here). Layton and the NDP, pre-coalition, were much more adept at wresting concessions from the minority government, several of their member bills were adopted in entirety by the Conservatives and passed. Ignatieff has been away from Canada for too long perhaps to understand the urgent need for decisive action. Whatever the reason, he has neglected the reponsibility he assumed himself when he asked for quarterly updates. Now parliament will recess for the summer while we all struggle our way through the dog days of the recession. Harper and Ignatieff will resume their posturing and poll pleasing performances in September. I can hardly wait.

Insight: Read what they had to say on Peace, order and good government,eh?

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