Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Keeping The Pressure On

Some more details about the looming Liberal demands, which will effectively keep the pressure on the government, allowing plenty of opportunity for future defeat, if required:
Ignatieff will support the budget but with two conditions:

The Tories make amendments that include improvements in employment insurance and infrastructure but without adding more to the deficit.

The Tories issue an update three times a year on the types of progress being made in terms of the deficit, infrastructure, creating jobs, and regional fairness.
Fife said the first update would be in March when government estimates have to be approved by Parliament.

"He's really going to be holding the government to account here if they don't meet these requirements then the government will be defeated," Fife said.

I would categorize the "update" requirement as a stroke of political brilliance. The chief concern, if the Liberals support, then they take the economy off the table, they've lost the leverage for criticism, is completely addressed with the demand of government accountability. This requirement translates to sustained pressure on the government, the Liberals are free to scrutinze and reacess, keeping the government on the defensive. In essence, the opposition will drive the agenda, ensuring compliance, any deviation or slowness on the government's part, they will "wear" it. Rather than "propping up" the Conservatives, the Liberal role will be to ensure compliance, and make adjustments where necessary. The amendment also means, the Liberals enjoy set benchmarks for future non-confidence, as well as addressing the "trust" issue. We effectively put an ankle bracklet on the government, so we can routinely check their whereabouts, what they've been up to.

The Liberals aren't giving the Conservatives a post-budget reprieve, they will be held to account, and the intitiative remains. If Flaherty is "rosy", if his projections miss the mark, any evidence of promises unkept, there is a mechanism to reveal the failures, and react accordingly. Rather than budget support translating to endorsement, it's a wait and see attitude, and we are left to criticize and show our non-confidence in the future. This amendment basically says, we'll pass the budget, but we don't trust you guys, the Liberals will have a future accounting role. Fast forward, and you can see how this requirement can pay dividends, both politically, and the genuine interest in making sure the economy does receive the stimulus promised.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The Tories make amendments that include improvements in employment insurance and infrastructure but without adding more to the deficit."

How do they propose IMPROVING EI benefits and infrastructure and NOT adding to the deficit. Both of these things cost money. I agree they should be done - but what do the Liberals want the Tories to do? Pay for the improvements through a fire-sale of government of assets?

MississaugaPeter said...

A great fan of this blog, but a little confused with recent logic. How exactly do you...

"include improvements in employment insurance and infrastructure but without adding more to the deficit."

Do you fake the numbers, as the Conservatives have been for months. And continue to do so.

Eliminate the need to prop up the Conservatives by eliminating the Conservatives for good.

Canada needs 18 months of stable government. Not even one more day of Harper's manipulation, lying and bullying.

Mike said...

I'm shocked to hear Fife say basically "oh yeah the Cons will accept these amendments no problem"

Anon is right they would have to go back to the drawing board and find enough savings for the EI and infrastructure.

Unless all the Libs will propose is speed up EI delivery (which probably does still cost money and add new bureaucracy), and deliver infrastructure without matching funds (meaning the funds won't pick up the tab for the munipalities rather the projects will just end up smaller in scope).

If that's all the Libs propose that's not all that great.

Mike said...

Sorry typo should be: "Meaning the the FEDS won't pick up the tab for the munipalities rather the projects will just end up smaller in scope than they otherwise would have been with just federal and provincial funding, so what was going to be a $12 billion project with $4 form feds, provs, and mun will now just be an $8 billion project.

Less stimulus for the economy then, that's not great.

Mike said...

Just saw Baird on CPAC he's DIGGING IN HIS HEELS! Muncipalities all love the budget he says, they need to provice matching funding, there's enough cities willing to take the money if others aren't able to pony up.

I bet Harper throws him under the bus anyway. What do you think Steve?

Anonymous said...

The fact that the Tories are twisting themselves into such a pretzel in desparation to make sure the budget passes makes me STRONGLY suspect that the GG told Harper in no uncertain terms that if he loses a confidence vote she will invite the opposition to form a government. Harper is clearly ready to sacrifice his first born son if it let's him remain PM any longer.

Don't let him execute a Houdini-like escape from this vice. Its time to strangle this horrible man now and make sure that his political career is a smouldering ruin for ever more and that he goes down in history as a total FAILURE.

Steve V said...

I don't see how the infrastructure expenditure changes with this amendment, it's still the same money?

On the EI, maybe they ask that the government eliminate another measure.

CuriosityCat said...

Can Canadians trust the Liberals to protect them?
I doubt it, if they support this budget.
The honourable and courageous thing for Ignatieff to do is to vote this down, and then as prime minister do the right thing for Canadians, providing a focused, stable government for the next 18 months.
It is a time for leadership, not weaseling.

Steve V said...

"STRONGLY suspect that the GG told Harper in no uncertain terms that if he loses a confidence vote she will invite the opposition to form a government."

Agreed. They are clearly in survival mode.

Mushroom said...

"Its time to strangle this horrible man now and make sure that his political career is a smouldering ruin for ever more and that he goes down in history as a total FAILURE."

Then kill Harper by a thousand cuts. Use the amendments to discredit him one day at a time.

Jesse said...

I'm not totally sure what the point is of demanding that the Cons provide the updates on the infrastructure progress. Are those numbers just too difficult too fudge (unlike, say, budget projections?)

Shouldn't they be demanding that the PBO be granted the independence to do it?

Anonymous said...

Why don't the Liberals demand something subtantive like increasing EI payments from 55% to 70% of income?

Mushroom said...

"Why don't the Liberals demand something subtantive like increasing EI payments from 55% to 70% of income?"

Promote this and Layton becomes Minister of Social Development in the Iggy cabinet.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been paying much attention but to those of you who have, some questions:

First, does the budget contain tax cuts and if so, how can the gov't justify cutting their own revenue at a time when this is sorely needed? Since a recession implies an already shrinking tax base, cutting what remains is not prudent. Tax cuts should come when times are good and there is too much gov't revenue. It is 'one-time spending' to cut taxes, and next year, this revenue will be gone and not there for further situations unforseeable today! Unlike pure investment strategies in, say infrastructure, which would stimulate growth and perhaps increase the tax base and justify a future tax cut, no?

Second, if green economic stimulus is absent from this budget, then Canada is essentially missing the train. It is leaving the station, folks. Our opportunity to begin this conversion to our economy came and went last fall. Obama's election and recent moves to turn the US economy in this direction will spark change. IMO, this coalition was a second chance to catch this train as it moves away. I am concerned that we are watching the caboose slowly disappear into the distance. These are jobs that are as yet uncreated, it takes vision to create them and other countries will be snapping them up in the coming years while Canada continues to cling to the tar sands. Canada, Canada, wherefore art thou?

-Blackstar

Sean S. said...

Hasn't this been done before? Do you really expect the Cons to do a good job reporting on their own actions? Is this all it takes for the Liberals to roll over given their massive upper hand?

What about the environment? What about the municipal infrastructure money tied to the already cash strapped cities being able to find between 15-30% of a projects cost? What about the permanent tax cuts that will hamstring future governments?

What I see is an abandonment of supposed Liberal principles for short term political gain, i.e. business as usual in this country.

Anonymous said...

In the end Iggy has not demanded ANY amendments that involve improving EI. I guess his attitude is that the unemployed can go fuck themselves. it will be amusing to now see the BQ and/or NDP propose amendments that involve improving EI and seeing the Liberals join with their new Tory coalition partners to vote those amendments down!

Anonymous said...

Oh my, the NDP and/or coalition supporters are out in droves now - poor Jackie Boy, he won't be able to pretend to be working in the interests of Canadians.

For a coalition to work, people would have to be able to work together and there is no way in hell that Layton would not make constant demands.

And, think about it - can the country really afford at this point in time all the Layton wants to spend?

I choked when he claims to be worried about the students and post secondary education but has not supported the students at York who have already paid their tuition and are being screwed by unions.

Iceland - coalition government and the country has financially collapsed - think about it.

Layton came running out attack Iggy - do you really think he'd work well with anyone? Not on your life. Besides, it would cause delays.

Anonymous said...

Canada is going to have nothing but minority governments for the foreseeable future. Liberals better get used to cooperating with the NDP and BQ now - because its either now or next year. We already saw what happened to Paul Martin when he refused to cooperate or compromise with anyone and stuck his head in the sand - he got destroyed. Similarly Harper is getting thrashed because he refused to work with anyone.

People, minority government is now the norm in Canadian politics so get out of this fantasy where you can just wish it away and you can go back to the good old days of four year terms of absolute dictatorship. It ain't ever gonna happen again.

Steve V said...

"People, minority government is now the norm in Canadian politics so get out of this fantasy where you can just wish it away and you can go back to the good old days of four year terms of absolute dictatorship. It ain't ever gonna happen again."

Thanks, but everyone is well aware of this fact. It might help, that the first coalition experiment contains a coupling of parties, which together, have more seats than the government party. As it stands now, it's probably the weakest presentation imaginable, and that's a big, big part of the problem.

BTW, I'm disappointed on the EI front.

Anonymous said...

I am tortaly dicusted by Jack Layton 's attitute. He came out strongly campaigning for the next election. What a Harper like slease ball.Duceppe is no better. he will only support Iggy if it is for the good of Quebec and the heck with the rest of Canada. Someone should take him to task over his words. Layton comes across as nothing but a grease ball salesman with only his only concern is for his own job agenda.

He is merely a discuting man with his own political carrer as the # 1 reason to oppose Iggy. Where was he in 2005 when he supported the Harper government to fefeat the Liberals? Ican bet that harper made him some offers he couldn't resist. He needs to be publically asked that very question before he shoots out of his mouth about the Libs supporting Harper again.

Anonymous said...

In 2005 the Liberals WANTED to be brought down because Martin and his "firm" were sure they could get a majority government. The NDP at the time gave them what they wanted. Too bad that Martin and his "firm" didn't know how to run a campaign and threw the election to Harper.

catherine said...

I never liked the coalition (except as a threat) and I think it is irresponsible to cause an election now unless you think Harper is going to do substantial permanent damage in the next few months. Voters did give Harper an increased mandate, even though anyone paying attention would know he can't be trusted and doesn't care enough about all Canadians. Because of the coalition threat, this budget actually does have some good things in it, which will help. Ignatieff made the right call. I expect the majority of Canadians (who are not partisan) will agree.

Joyce said...

"Ignatieff made the right call. I expect the majority of Canadians (who are not partisan) will agree."

Why no amendment on EI or infrastructure? Are they partisan issues?

Steve V said...

Joyce

I can't answer that, and I'm disappointed too.

dalestreet said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the Conservatives spend the $54 billion EI surplus on deficit and debt reduction? Wouldn't asking for an increase in EI payouts have been politically shrewd as well as "the right thing to do"? And as far as infrastructure spending goes, all that was needed was to request that the strings attached be severed.

Both these amendments could have been easily defended, since one would just be taking money back from where it had been short-sightedly allocated and the other wouldn't cost any more, just ensure that the funds earmarked actually went where they are supposed to.

These two amendments, plus the demand for periodic updates, would have made it feel like the Opposition were in the navigator's seat. With just the demand for updates, they seem more like back seat drivers.