Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Graham Sets Right Tone

Interim Liberal leader Bill Graham sets the right tone:
It's up to New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois to see that the minority Conservative government survives its first throne speech, says Opposition leader Bill Graham...

"I did point out (that) his is a minority that is even less strong than ours and on many of these issues he knows that not only (does) he represent a minority of members of the House, but also in terms of the electorate,'' said Graham

Graham's defiant demeanor is completely appropriate given the dynamics of the new parliament. The Liberals do run the risk that they will look like belligerent obstructionists. However, it is crucial that the Liberals clearly define their role and put the Conservatives on notice. Graham sets the table for a scrappy opposition, that will not be strong armed into supporting any measure that doesn't consider their position. In laying the onus of support on the other parties, Graham effectively allows the Liberals free reign to vote against the government.

Graham's stance finds support in the words of the former opposition leader Stephen Harper:
"The Liberal party can't expect to walk in and simply propose its own program that only one-third of Canadians supported and expect that everybody's going to vote for it.''

I suspect the looming battle will revolve around the child care question. All the other parties are on record rejecting the Conservative's proposal. Harper has repeatedly placed the child care issue within his top five priorities. The Liberals have made it clear that they will not support the Conservative plan, which leaves the Bloc and NDP to decide the government's fate. Graham offers a strategy where Liberals vote with their conscious, and the question of confidence is secondary. It is as though Graham is saying "if they fall they fall, we are acting in our interest". Graham looks eager to continue the Liberal tradition of feisty opposition which should make for an interesting parliament.

4 comments:

HearHere said...

Whatever happened to the Martin rallying cry"we have to make this parliament work" and any dissenters were from "people who don't want to make this parliament work" and "Canadians don't want an election now" and ...well, you get the picture.
The Conservatives did not agree with Martin's budget and he refused to make amendments so instead of voting to bring them down (the BLOC and the NDP voted against it) they abstained instead.
When they did agree with something they voted for it. Come on everyone - Graham is sounding like a huge hypocrite and his bravado is really not helping the party whatsoever. He has not said "we'll work to make this parliament work"..he has said "We are the Opposition so we are going to oppose". That is not the way it is done if you listen to our own whimpering and snivelling over this during the last parliament.
At least Jack is saying"we are going to try to make this work" and even Gilles is saying he will vote item by item. Graham has already come out and proven we Liberals are just in it for power and will just oppose for the heck of it. Proving once again that Liberals cannot be team players but only want power for the sake of power and the needs of Canadians come second.
Let us turn this ugly page and somebody better set Graham and the snarky Steve spoksperson straight about this.

Steve V said...

hearhere

All Graham is doing is making sure everyone realizes that Harper has a thin mandate. If legislation isn't palatable to the opposition, then they will not support it.

"Proving once again that Liberals cannot be team players but only want power for the sake of power and the needs of Canadians come second."

When the childcare question comes to a head, Canadians expect the opposition to uphold their wishes. The Liberals already passed a plan which the Conservatives have chosen to disregard, despite the concerns expressed from all quarters. If Harper forges ahead, then it is he who "isn't a team player" and rightfully the opposition should vote against his plan.

You conveniently paint the Conservatives of the last parliament as somehow agreeable, when in fact they were chomping at the bit to bring about a non-confidence for months. Graham is simply keeping the Conservatives honest, it is a tactical play and a shrewd one at that. Do you really think the Liberals want to go to the polls this fall?

HearHere said...

Yes , I agree . However as far as the child care plan goes Harper has pledged to uphold our plan until the end of March 2007 which is when all of the signed agreements with the provinces expire anyways. So their stage two plan won't have to be even debated in this house.
All parties have said they will pass the stage one $1200 per child program to start July 1.
Meanwhile Harper will be renegotiating the Conservative plan with the provinces which I understand allocates the same $1 billion per year as ours so it will already be in the budget.
How the plan is administered or allocated by the provinces is up to the provinces so Graham or Jack have no jurisdiction to go against what the provinces decide as day care is a provincial jurisdiction.
Graham knows this. Why is he shadow boxing this issue when it is all smoke and mirrors by us. Once again we are trying to stir up public opinion on a myth.
By the way our day care plan is a mess - it is only 3 months old and alredy we find funds are being used for almost everything BUT creating new spaces.
Let's do our homework before we spout off. Let us turn the page and be informed . It is time for honesty or this party is toast.

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

The Harper-Bloc Axis.

Reading between the lines of the reactions of the leaders of the Bloc, NDP and Liberal parties to their meetings with Harper, I believe there is a better than even chance that the following will happen when the Throne Speech is read:

• Harper will specifically protect Quebec's close to a billion funding of child care for the next year, while still offering $1200 to mothers, including those in Quebec.

• Harper will not make the same assurance to the other provinces.

• Harper will cut GST, introduce his watered down Accountability Act, put forward a crime prevention package and a narrow proposal to cut certain waiting times.

• The Bloc will support Harper, passing these measures, including the asymmetrical child care measure.

• The NDP and Liberals will vote against the measures.

• Harper will then start working with the Bloc to cut agreements on further aspects of his program, trading off votes on an issue by issue basis, until he is ready to cash in on his Tory-Bloc Axis and go the polls again, perhaps just before or just after the Liberals elect a new leader.

Let's see how the Liberals and NDP frame this behaviour.