Thursday, August 06, 2009

Get Off The Ride?

It's complicated, and nobody was naive, but this EI panel is turning into a farce of biblical proportions. The only mildly surprising facet, one would think the Conservatives learned something about appearing concilatory, given that overt partisanship is their achilles heel. Apparently, that revelation hasn't set in, so we are now witnessing a asinine display. I think Liberals should seriously consider getting off this ride, let the government present their own proposal in September and we then pass a verdict. This is nothing more than smears and trying to score points:
Cost has become the latest flashpoint between Conservatives and Liberals in their potentially election-provoking squabble over employment insurance reform.

Federal officials charge Thursday that a Liberal proposal to ease access to jobless benefits would cost more than $4-billion a year to implement.

But Liberals charged the governing Tories have “grossly inflated” the number of unemployed who'd be eligible for EI under their plan, thereby producing “astronomical costs” to justify their flat rejection of the proposal.

“I'm incredibly disappointed that they're out [in public] taking information that they have fabricated and distorted and taking it out of our meeting for political purposes,” Liberal MP Mike Savage said.

Where do you start? The Liberals used an independent analysis to cost out their proposal, a proposal that is open to compromise. The Liberals didn't pull the numbers out of their ass, like a Conservative fiscal update, they used non-partisan accounting. The Conservatives have countered with a costing that is intellectually dishonest, bastardizes the requirements the Liberals proposed, to create this bloated nonsense that doesn't resemble anything we've heard to date. Do serious people, trying to reach a compromise on reform, resort to these tactics?:
During the meeting, Liberals said, federal officials admitted that their estimate of the number of people affected by the “360” plan includes new entrants to the work force, re-entrants and those receiving special benefits, such as maternity leave — none of whom Mr. Ignatieff's proposal is intended to cover.

The Conservatives have wasted taxpayer money costing out a proposal that's never existed, all in the name of backing the Liberals in a corner. What's even more offensive, the Liberals have clearly stated, before this "panel" started, that 360 hours is negotiable, the hysterics unnecessary and counter-productive.

I know it brings risk to walk away- in this climate you could look obstructionist, playing games with serious issues. That said, this is amateur hour and it will reflect badly on us, no matter. Liberals would be better served to rise together, leave the room, find a mic and furiously reject this nonsense. That's what it is, call a spade a spade, see in you September, it better be good. The ball is in the government's court, nobody is clammoring for an election, we simply won't participate in such a environment, these people are impossible. Leave the clowns and the misinformation campaign sitting there, full of mock outrage.


Jeff has more.


WesternGrit said...

We agree. Good post.

Anonymous said...

If I could dictate how this would play out, it would be this.

Liberals announce a full policy, backing off the 360 hours, "but not much" as Ignatieff said previously - using whatever measure they deem appropriate. They present that basic standard as well as other legitimate EI changes based upon any input from Provincial premiers or any compromise position they might be able to decipher from the conservative's alarmist tirades.

Ignatieff then holds a press conference to announce the changes with this simple statement:

"This is it. We refuse to play the Conservative's games any longer. The Liberal Party entered these negotiations with integrity and a spirit of cooperation in hopes of avoiding a Federal election at this time. Instead of serious negotiations, we are facing a government that would rather play foolish political games instead of seriously addressing critical federal matters. Our attempts at negotiation are now over, as it is clear the Harper government is intent on scuttling any meaningful work on this file, preferring instead to fight phantom battles at taxpayer's expense, hoping their distortions will help them politically.

The government either accepts this well thought-out proposal as is and in its entirety or we will call for non-confidence of this government in September. We refuse to subject the well-intentioned members of our party to this charade. More importantly, we will not subject the Canadian people to the continuing games of the Harper government.

We feel it is in the best interest of Canada for us to use the time instead to finalize the Liberal platform and ensure candidates are in place for a fall election should the Conservatives continue their foolish games on this and other critical files.

There will be no questions today, as my statement speaks for itself. Thank you for your time."

. . .

And then sit back and smack down visibly every flying pan the conservative's toss, fully acting as if an election is already called - rallying fund-raising and giving the media a full court press as needed as they prepare to execute a full election plan with policy anticipating a September confidence vote.

There is more risk in allowing the Harper government to just spew crap on the taxpayer dime, acting above it all even as you stand in the mud-ring with them there is in just making a mature, legitimate, easy to explain stance and sticking to it.

The result is either an election launched on Liberal terms. And should the Harper government accepts the legitimate compromise position put forth, well, then the battle was won. Harper is seen to indeed be on probation, ending those grumblings. And something good happens for Canada, which is what government is supposed to be about at the end of the day.

This is not as complicated as folks want to make it out to be. It really isn't. Most things aren't black or white, but this one is a pretty basic picture that most Canadians can see if the Liberals stay clear and on message.

RuralSandi said...

Joseph - well said and well put.

The Rational Number said...

I'm with Joseph.

briguyHFX said...

Wait? Are you saying that the Conservatives are being dishonest and are dicking around with the Liberals on this EI commission? Whoever could have predicted such a thing?

Oh yah. Only every non-Liberal observer on the planet. Next time, vote non-confidence when you get the chance, m-kay?

Steve V said...

"Whoever could have predicted such a thing?"

If it's any consolation, I predicted this kind of comment the minute I posted. Ya, we know. But, you keep on the sidelines, in the land of irrelevance. See how that works for ya.


Very well put, couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

What Joseph said - and better yet, this totally justifies what Ignatieff did in June.

Harper could have used this opportunity to continue to appear conciliatory, but instead he exposed his conduct in June as the lie that it was, and completely legitimized the election that will hopefully be forced in September.


The Rat said...

Wow, you guys really want to fight an election on a platform that basically says "work 9 weeks and take the rest off"? Other than the UI Ski team and the stoner vote, who do you think is going to vote for that turd?

Anonymous said...

Of course that's how you see it, Rat. I see your last blog post from the election last autumn was applauding how wonderfully Harper was manipulating events to sink the Liberal party forever. We can all see how that worked out.

What you fail to realize in the current situation is that the real question for voters in the election if it occurred under these circumstances would be:

"Which government do you trust to take the business of governing seriously?,"

which can also be expressed as,

"Do you prefer an intelligent leader addressing serious issues or a self-proclaimed political chess wizard working for Canada's future?"

But you just keep pushing for the game. I hear Harper is looking for some new blood as his band of true believers seem to be fleeing.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the Cons will respond by pushing the EI reforms into the whole fall economic statement. Then Harper will deliberately let the House fall.

If I take Joseph's scenario, I would release a whole party White Paper on social policy with clear goals towards ending child poverty. Also add a few poison pills that Harper's so-cons will have to swallow (such as expanding the distribution of prescription heroin). One that Iggy can go to the Governor-General and try to form a coalition government with. Then try to negotiate an electoral pact with Layton. Make no uncertain terms that Harper's government is dead on arrival, without another prorogue.

Don't back off on the 360 hours. In fact, I would dig a trench on social policy issues and watch the Cons fall.

Steve V said...

The sad part, Rat probably thought that was pretty clever.

I think the Liberals would be wise to back away from this 360 requirement, raise the threshold. This position is clearly on the low end of conventional opinion, plus it makes for, as we're seeing right now, easy fodder for our opponents.

Anonymous said...

"Wow, you guys really want to fight an election on a platform that basically says "work 9 weeks and take the rest off"? Other than the UI Ski team and the stoner vote, who do you think is going to vote for that turd?"

If Harper makes this an election issue, the response should be: "I would rather work nine weeks than have no work whatsoever".

Seriously this is what happens when you have two parties who don't know what to do with a broken EI system. For me, I want to eliminate EI and move towards a guaranteed annual income. But nobody is willing to bring forth bold social policies.

What happened to Dion's pledge to end child poverty? Is this what liberals should be supporting, while employment should be the dependent on market forces?

LMA said...

While I agree it's a good idea for the Liberals to lay before the public their proposal for EI reform which includes some compromise on the 360 hours, it might be a mistake to make any statements about negotiations being over. Just make the proposal public, wait for the Cons response and take it from there.