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.