The Bloc Quebecois has issued a five-point set of demands for the Conservative minority government that appears to be a muscled reaction the party's bruising in byelections earlier this week.
It also appears to be setting the stage for a fall election.
The demands set out Friday are that the government:
1)Eliminate all federal spending powers in provincial jurisdictions
2)Respect the Kyoto Protocol and establish targets for greenhouse gas reductions
3)Assistance for workers in the ailing forest industry
4)Changes to supply management for dairy farmers
5)And finally, "non négociable," in the Throne Speech, an announced end to the combat mission in Afghanistan by Feb. 2009.
These demands come a day after Harper's Quebec lieutenant, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, gloated over his party's byelection victory and called the Bloc "useless" in Quebec.
Harper might throw a carrot on 1, in his own self-interest, 3 and 4 room for comprimise, 2 and 5 showdown. I suppose the government could weasle around Kyoto and "targets", but given the favorable results for the Conservatives, I don't think Harper is prepared to commit to ending the Afghanistan mission, in such clear terms.
Duceppe's tough stance is an effort to look relevant, but it does raise the stakes considerably. The NDP has been equally combative, which may mean the Liberals will decide the government's fate.