That kind of change will have a positive effect on the Canadian economy.
One hundred and fifty thousand more unemployed Canadians on EI mean 150,000 more Canadian families spending on food, rent and transportation. It means money flowing into communities that have been hit the hardest by this recession.
That's the kind of immediate, targeted and effective stimulus we need right now.
I've always seen EI reform as a form of stimulus, so I'm glad to see Ignatieff make this basic point. Rather than making it "lucrative" as Harper describes, what you are really doing is keeping money in the system, offsetting the compounding problem of unemployment feeding off itself. In addition, there is no red tape with this sort of stimulus, the money gets directly into the hands of people who will spend it and stimulate.
On what lies ahead:
In the closing weeks of the spring session of Parliament, the Conservative government has a choice to make. Mr. Harper can continue to resist a good idea simply because someone else thought of it first. Or else he can make a simple but critical change to EI that will provide benefits for thousands of Canadians who have paid into the system and who now need that money to support their families.
We hope the Conservative government will choose wisely.
In response to the Conservative nonsense, that the opposition proposals are open ended, I think the Liberals need to highlight the support for these changes within the economic community. Harper, today in Calgary, is using his usual bombastic language to turn a reasonable solution into a wild exercise:
This is an absurdity. This has nothing to do with the real problems of this recession. This is just a recipe to raise payroll taxes. It is not responsible.
To highlight who is being "absurd" here, a great non-partisan counter would be to provide a list of banks, economic think tanks that support the Liberals idea. When you have such widespread independent support you can make your case, as well as isolate your opponent as "not responsible".