After coming under heavy criticism, the Harper government is doing an about-face and promising immediate help for struggling one-industry towns.
Federal sources said the Tories will table a motion Monday calling on Parliament to immediately approve their $1-billion community development fund.
The government previously said the fund would only go forward if the opposition passed the federal budget.
I guess the only question, why? Obviously, the notion of holding these communities hostage, part of a political power struggle, presents horrible optics for the government. Maybe more than that, I think the Conservatives may have concluded that the budget is unlikely to pass and they don't want this issue around during the election. If the aid package passes, then Harper has another talking point, a concrete initiative to help struggling economies, something to blunt the obvious opposition criticisms. That reality is far more attractive than the spectre of all the opposition parties pointing to political opportunism over good government during a campaign.
I read this "flip" as a calculation that an election is likely, that the government can't successfully use this issue to force passage of the budget. Looking at the fallout, much better to have something tangible, rather than the failed argument of blaming the opposition. In addition, the Conservatives can now argue that they didn't flip, but were merely recognizing the need for immediate action.