Fight over $3B could spark election
Ignatieff wants to require government to say where extra cash will be spent
OTTAWA–A dispute over a $3 billion emergency fund for the economy has the Liberals and Conservatives lurching toward a possible early election.
The Liberals oppose Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plan to quickly disperse the money without going through the usual parliamentary spending checks, saying it amounts to a Tory slush fund.
But Harper says the emergency cash is critical to the government's economic rescue effort and its approval in the Commons will be a confidence matter, which means opposition parties could defeat the minority government and send Canadians to the polls if they fight it.
Yesterday, in the latest twist in this showdown, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said the Liberals will put forward a motion in Parliament next week requiring the government to list the departments and programs on which the $3 billion will be spent.
Ignatieff repeated that he has no intention of giving the government a "complete blank cheque." But he suggested the upcoming Liberal motion offers the Conservatives a possible way out of the impasse.
"I see no reason why the Prime Minister would make it an issue," Igantieff said when asked if he was willing to force an election over the $3 billion.
I see no reason why any of this is an "issue", and I'd love to see the government try and spin it into an election justification. How dare the opposition demand accountability, clearly Parliament is dysfunctional and we need a new mandate. Come on.
Part of the reason the Liberals are pushing hard here, is because they know full well that Harper's bravado is just that. Ignatieff laughed at Harper's threats, because they're really laughable, nothing more, nothing less. Tough guy was still in his Obama afterglow, and he incorrectly assumed it was an opportunity to return to previous partisan form. Problem is, nobody's particularly afraid and the issue is so ridiculously simple, the best spin doctors can't make it fly for the government. Let's get this straight, the party who's "signature" achievement, the thesis for their initial mandate, would force an election because he can't accept simple ACCOUNTABILITY. It all boils down to a soundbite, and any resistance on the part of the Conservatives is a complete and utter LOSER politically.
Canadians support the "probation" idea, and they have no problem with spending being accounted for, it's actually a matter of common sense. Forcing a conflict over this demand, portrays a very simple frame- do you have something to hide, and if not, what's the problem? Harper wants to force an election over accountability, it's almost absurd, and I suspect our reaction has incorporated that dynamic.
In the end, there will be some language that allows the Conservatives to appear as though complete capitulation wasn't required. However, they will "walk back down the hill", AGAIN, and still not realize that tough guy blew the wad in November, and is now almost comical when he elevates and manufactures lines in the sand, where none need exist.