Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blank Canvas

The so called list of the NDP "demands" have leaked. If this is truly the NDP starting point to support the government, the vagueness and paltry list provides a real chance to make the purple coalition work, and I mean this in all seriousness. The wants are so purposelessly narrow that there is plenty of latitude for Harper, should he chose to explore.

Judging by the various postures I saw today I would judge the dynamic as such- the NDP are basically waiting to hear any indication from the Conservatives, nothing has happened as of yet, a virtual rebuke, but the NDP remain ready to respond to any overture. Of note, Conservative whip Jay Hill chastised the NDP for finally wanting to make "parliament work at the 11th hour", reviewing their abysmal record to date (79 ain't what it used to be, post epiphany). I found that combative tone telling, in contrast to the olive branch routine from the NDP. The government clearly hasn't moved in response to the NDP, maybe because they want an election, maybe because appearing aloof will mean less concessions required, when push comes to shove (Liberals know the game well, Harper tries to maximize at the first hint of weakness).

Back to the extensive TWO bullet point demands:


-That means job creation through directly funded new infrastructure in municipalities.

-It means security for seniors in retirement, substantive credit card reform and fixing EI.

The first reference is complete and utter fluff for material, when one considers the billions being poured into infrastructure as we speak. Methinks we might be able to manage this herculean request.

As for the rest, myself I would have spread out the three into separate points, to add the appearance of depth. People will notice the environment is nowhere to be found, which is telling, considering the crucial climate change talks are on the horizon, and this has always been a key NDP talking point. I guess they figured any request here, they'd have to go to the polls, so why agitate. What does fixing EI mean, why not offer up some firm reforms, as in the past? Given the government is preparing to "reform" EI, a "meet me half way" compromise seems entirely doable. Security for seniors, well that's the Conservative best demographic, that's who shows up at the polls, again I suspect something over the weeks ahead is possible. Credit card reform, might be a bit tricky, but if you knock out the rest, does anybody really believe Layton would go on this issue? If EI wasn't enough for the Liberals, credit card reform, while attractive, is nowhere near a rationale. In other words, it's a paltry list, intentionally vague and general. Partisan NDP will see it differently, nobody else does or will.

It really is up to Harper now, and I suspect some huddling on their side because this isn't much to get them to the next budget after the Olympics, which was the master plan all along. To date, no sign of wanting to deal with the NDP, today reaffirmed the hesitancy, but this is going to be a long week. The NDP are ready to prop up for the moment, so long as they can portray some sense of credibility in support.


Steve V said...

I just caught Lavigne saying that on EI, we need to extend benefits for those that have worked long term and the self employed. Gee, aren't those the things already being floated by the Conservative reforms? Kumbaya.

Joseph said...


I had just posted this on Scott's blog because it fit with the discussion going on there, but it seems to fit your post even better with regards to the talk about stimulus spending. It just seems to me there is more than meets the eye on the deficit and the upcoming fiscal update . . .

Articles such as the one linked below really make me wonder about two things – the deficit projection and the real status of the “action plan” stimulus package Harper has wrapped himself in as the latest candy-tossing exercise of his eternal campaign:

I’ve seen other reports like this in regards to other major stimulus projects in other parts of Canada.

The Vancouver Sun tends to drift towards the conservatives in their coverage so the fact that this article appears in it says something. If the dollars aren’t getting through to the actual projects here, what does that mean? How can deficit projections be steadily climbing yet money not being released or spent on major components of the stimulus?

Is it possible the deficit is still in fact much worse than we’ve been told?

I would love to know the real answer to that question. When are the stimulus dollars being counted as being spent?

Plus I love the juxtaposition of the ubiquitous ads about "not stopping the bold action plan" - both the lie that an election would stop it and the lie that the funds are actually flowing to the projects most needed (needlepoint conferences, while nice, not being the most critical).

Joseph said...

As with the NDP, it appears clear to me that they'll take whatever scrap Harper tosses their way and thank them for it.

So much for the high and mighty "he can never be trusted" stance.

If I rolled my eyes again at something else Layton puts out, I'd get a migraine ;)

Steve V said...

The in "stereo" element is quite striking:

"The proposed EI legislation will have two parts, CBC News has learned. The first part will extend benefits to laid-off workers who have worked for years, according to government sources.

The second part is to be introduced later in the month, and will fulfil a Conservative campaign promise from 2008 to extend maternity and parental benefits to the self-employed."

Wow, we so think alike now.

Steve V said...


Maybe the NDP will demand regular updates on the progress of municipal infrastructure spending :)

And yes, this is PALTRY demand, by any measure.

Steve V said...

And, before we get lost in the partisan bs, I suggest a review of what Harper wanted on EI last June, then tell me what exactly has changed and/or what concession is being made to get the NDP on board? It's nothing, except helping Harper fulfill his own election promise.

Joseph said...

for that matter, compare what is being batted about now to what the NDP was demanding earlier. ;)

That's why I'm convinced Layton is getting ready to fold now that the real decision lay before them.

I have to head out for now. sorry to post so much so fast. have a good day, steve.

DL said...

If you guys are soooo sure that the NDP doesn't want an election, all the Liberals had to do was to "call the NDP's bluff" during any of the 79 previous confidence votes. I wonder why they never did? I guess they weren't so sure after all.

I'm 90% sure that in the end, Harper will rebuff any and all overtures and peace offerings and we will have an election. This isn't about actually avoiding an election, it's about the parties positioning themselves for the upcoming campaign. The NDP has decided that it wants to position itself going into the campaign as being conciliatory and trying to "make parliament work" while making Harper look as intransigent as possible - so that people are more likely to see him as being to blame for the election. Makes sense to me.

It'll be VERY interesting to see what the polls say this week.

Greg said...

I think you guys are working yourselves up over nothing. The Conservatives want an election (they really, really believe they can take Iggy down). Layton may be many things, but he is not retarded. If he doesn't get a deal that could be read off the NDP policy platform, he will be roasted. He knows that and he also knows that Harper hates his guts and won't give that to him. My guess is, he wants to go into an election, seen as "more in sorrow than anger". In the end, the election will happen this fall.

RuralSandi said...

DL - you're really trying to convince yourself - that purple sweater - needs some yellow stripes.

Ya, Layton was bold, brave and cocky when the onus wasn't on him. Like a scared little puppy he's running with his tail between his legs....if he really wanted to make parliament work he wouldn't have voted against Harper "79" times. Yes, DL, Libs can count on their fingers and toes too.

Gayle said...

"If you guys are soooo sure that the NDP doesn't want an election, all the Liberals had to do was to "call the NDP's bluff" during any of the 79 previous confidence votes."

I think the answer is obvious.

There was a time when the LPC were hurting - they could not raise money, and they were not organized to go into an election. The NDP were doing OK in the polls and they had the money and infrastructure with which to head into an election.

Now it is the other way around.

Greg - Harper does not hate Layton. Harper needs Layton. The NDP not being ready for an election is as big a problem for Harper as it is for Layton.

Whatever happens next was probably already decided when they had their little meeting a few weeks ago.

rockfish said...

Let's say DL is right, that all parties are just scrambling for a preferred position heading into an imminent election. CONs go from 'trying to make parliament work' hooha to now being the party that won't lift a finger to keep it going. The NdP, meanwhile, go from mocking the liberals '79!!' and voting against things they never saw because Harper can't be trusted (duh!) to suddenly sputtering 'can't we all just get along?' I'd say the Grits, having shown actually proof that they bent over backwards to extend parliament (79! now becomes a positive in an 'election no one wants') and now standing on principle for those who truly, really want to get rid of Harper and/or find a way to put a parliament together that will work and last.
I'm thinking this may work out afterall...

Steve V said...


You're wrong, they didn't want an election this soon. They'll oblige, but they don't "want" on. I believe the strategy was to make it through the fall session. They've already intimated that the next budget would be delivered late, so they can get to the Olympics. The economy will be better, it will be a feel good time, that was their optimal strategy. If anyone really believes they were ramping up for an election, why did they only have 6 month old, stale attacks ads in the "can".

Greg said...

I think we are as close to agreement as we ever will be, Steve. I think Layton is resigned to the inevitability of an election, but does not want to be blamed for it (just like all the other party leaders). Given his druthers I am sure he would like to have more money in the bank, but he is in a box and he can't get out of it, without ticking off his base. C'est la vie.