Friday, September 18, 2009

Labour Takes Lipstick Off Pig

Interesting contradiction (what else is new) from the NDP. While supporters busily try to validate the EI sellout as substantive, the NDP's labour friends are criticizing the miniscule for what it is, pushing the party to try and get something in return for their voluntary capitulation:
One day after claiming victory for extracting employment insurance reforms from the Conservatives, New Democrats now say they've read the fine print and the government's latest bill is not the prize they had hoped.

But NDP MP Joe Comartin, whose Windsor, Ont., area riding includes many unemployed auto workers, said the government's bill – and the NDP's support – will be short lived unless the government agrees to NDP amendments.

“Unfortunately for communities like mine, the auto sector generally as well as forestry are going to be pretty extensively, if not completely excluded from being able to access the extended benefits under this bill,” he said.

Mr. Comartin said the bill applies only to people who first applied for EI in 2009, leaving out those who lost their jobs at the start of the recession.

Peggy Nash, the president of the NDP who also works for the Canadian Auto Workers, agreed the bill must be changed.

“Is it enough? Absolutely not,” she said in an interview.

When the NDP say they just read the "fine print", it means that for the past few days labour leaders and fellow supporters have been expressing concern about these EI reforms. Everybody knew what this reform was on Monday, the CAW and Canadian Labour Congress were criticizing immediately, so PLEASE with the "fine print". This is a reaction to blowback from the NDP base, as they now scramble to find something they can tolerate, a resignation that NO you can't put enough lipstick on this pig to make it attractive. It's actually a confirmation of what's been said from the beginning, this EI "reform" was never a concession, it was never the life raft that hapless supporters have tried to make meaningful.

The latest NDP stance is about trying to regain some credibility, a balancing act between fear of an election and party dignity. Lots of rumors of a "raucous" NDP caucus meeting this week, there is clearly some internal conflict. The NDP now sending signals they need more on EI tells us that there is some blowback, this crumb to make an issue disappear isn't acceptable. Let the tortured dance continue...


12 comments:

DL said...

If you think the bill is so bad - why do the Liberals want to "fast track" it?

Honestly, this never ending tit-for-tat between Liberals and New Democrats can go on forever (its funny that none of us ever seem to post anything in Tory blogs so they get off scot-free) - no one outside of our little "bubble" actually pays any attention. While we are busy taunting each other like 8-year olds - have you noticed that Harper has actually been the big winner lately? People see him governing while the opposition parties are busy playing "hot potato"

Mark Francis said...

The Liberals wanted to fast track it to get it out of the way. it's election time, folks. The two largest parties in Parliament want it. Harper is just being coy.

The goal of any political party is to be the government. As soon as they lose sight of that, they start arguing over table scraps as if they are significant prizes 'in the interest of Canadians.'

If the NDP thinks it knows what the interests of Canadians are, then it should be working to dump this ineffective, institution-hating government, not supporting it.

Unfortunately, the NDP gave up long ago any hopes of seriously forming government, and acts merely as an electoral spoiler, handing power to the Right while celebrating little the scraps government hands them.

Of course, the NDP is having significant fiscal problems right now, and can't afford an election. Thus the attempt to prop up Harper using this terrible EI bill as justification. And the more committees Jack can get it into, the better, because the longer it take to become law, the more chance his party can raise funds so it doesn't have to layoff full-time staff.

Ironically, I support many of the ideas and beliefs of NDP supporters, but have a hard time supporting a party which sees its primary purpose to be making moral pronouncements achieving nothing.

The NDP's days of making a lasting contribution to Canada on the federal level are over. They'd achieve more folding into the Liberals and working internally in that party to void crap like the Colombian trade deal. Work provincially, dippers. That's where progress can be made improving people's lives. The Federal government in Canada is fading.

But I still won't vote Liberal. Iggy has given me more reasons to not do so than to do so.

DL said...

Except that its actually the Bloc Quebecois that is apparently stalling the bill, not the NDP. So how do you explain that? (or maybe you think that that BQ secretely does the NDP's bidding)

ottlib said...

Why doesn't the NDP finally give up the dance and announce Canadians do not want an election this Fall so they will be supporting the government to prevent one?

They can point to several polls to prove that point.

They can also state that the support is conditional on the Conservatives not introducing confidence legislation this Fall that is completely unacceptable to the NDP and it is conditional on the Conservatives not making every motion put before Parliament this Fall a confidence motion.

State if those two conditions are not met then Stephen Harper can accept the blame for any subsequent election.

Finally, state that they will revisit this decision after the Christmas holidays.

Done, problem solved. They will take some ribbing from some in the media but they are not the audience the NDP is trying to address.

What they are doing now is not working. It makes them look weak and stupid.

DL said...

Ottlib, that's actually not a bad idea. I think sometimes inside the "bubble", we get all get lost having to come up with endless rationales for every single decision - and 99% of the public really doesn't care and isn't paying attention.

The reality is that the Liberals really didn't suffer that much for essentially saying "we will vote confidence in Harper for no other reason than that we don't feel it's in Canada's (in other words the Liberal Party's) interest to have an election so soon after the last one.

Harper brought in a bill on fixed elections and then proceeded to ignore and call and early election - and no one cared!

Speaking just for myself, if someone confronted a politician and pointed out some reversal or inconsistency - if they simply said "well that was then and this is now" - I'd actually like them better for it!

Mark Francis said...

DL: Jack is saying he wants changes in the bill. And has said this week he wants the bill to go through the full process. Wait until after this weekend to see what he's stuck doing.

The Bloc wants to gain cred knocking this bill down in committee, potentially embarrassing the NDP, if it can. The NDP's hand will tend, I think, to push toward moving this bill slowly, seeking changes Harper may, in the en, never grant.

Remember, Harper is looking for a majority. he wants an election, but he's playing coy. He doesn't want to wear this election call.

And yes, ottlib, the NDP should come out strong and act like a leader. Damn the torpedoes. Harper has been doing that for ages, and it works.

Greg said...

Remember, Harper is looking for a majority. he wants an election, but he's playing coy. He doesn't want to wear this election call.

In a perverse way, I like the fact that the NDP is thwarting Steve's election strategy. Just thinking that Steve may be kicking chairs because the goddamn socialists won't let him have an election, makes me smile.

DL said...

Its truly remarkable what a vast amount of time and effort all the parties spend on these elaborate strategic chess games that are all about appearances. Imagine if even a fraction of that time and effort went into real discussion of policies and about what to do about the recession, the environment and health care.

Tof KW said...

"Imagine if even a fraction of that time and effort went into real discussion of policies and about what to do about the recession, the environment and health care."

Indeed DL, indeed!
But the unfortunately reality is that the Libs & NDP can (and should) put aside partisan politics and work on these very subjects, but the discussions would be irrelevant as long as Harper sits in the PM chair.

Joseph said...

I apologize for the soap-box, Steve . . .

DL is right about politicians not spending enough energy on issues.

No leader is blameless. However, leadership starts with the PM. If that individual lacks maturity, the entire charade gets played out through the governing system. The leader of government sets the tone.

My insistence Harper is bad for Canada stems from that belief and from observing how his government operates. I have witnessed several US presidents and Canadian PMs. They were all human, having both good qualities and flaws. I thought I had witnessed the person most ill-equipped to move a nation forward in Bush Jr, but even he had a humanity to him and faced horribly serious situations.

Harper actually trumps Bush in failing to positively lead. If you could teach a selfish child incapable of empathy cut-throat political instincts, imagine how they would run a party, parliament, government or nation. Meet Harper.

I think Ignatieff thought he could work with the Harper government. I think the EI negotiations were his test to see if Liberals and Conservatives could find compromise on an issue, on any issue. I am sure other considerations were at play. But I think there was a genuine desire to find a way to work with the government in the current parliament.

When it became apparent Harper's only intention was to embarrass the Liberals . . . when Ignatieff saw that for himself, I think he decided the Liberals could not work in good faith with this government.

Everything else has flowed from that decision. It remains unclear how it will play out. Harper could have avoided the situation by acting with even basic good faith. He didn't. Now people are suggesting Harper manipulated this entire situation, citing this as another example of his great "chess-master" skills.

Bullshit. Harper is just acting as he always does. His one great skill is wanting all the marbles and adjusting to situations to reach that goal. Good government isn't even on the agenda. If he delivered that while seeking his goal, it might redeem him. But he doesn't.

Folks who pay attention should never forget Stephen Harper sets the tone. So if leadership is lacking, it is his fault.

He may yet manipulate the situation politically. But the nation is in his hands. He bears responsibility for whether government functions well, and he is responsible for moving Canada forward.

He has never shown he deserves a majority. His actions reinforce the opposite impression. Despite a devoted base who accept his government's spin and fear, Canada on the whole has not given him a majority. I am grateful for that. I think Canada would suffer if he did because then his deep-seeded desire to punish his enemies would rule the day. He has proven that desire is what matters to him, not doing what is right for Canada.

Surprisingly, I'm not all that anti-Conservative. I disagree with their social positions, but I have no doubt conservatives can operate successful governments and move a nation forward.

This conservative government, under Harper, fails that basic test. They are idealogues lacking empathy but awash in arrogance and self-righteousness. Governments like that are bad for countries, no matter what the ideology.

That's my bottom-line opinion on Harper and this entire situation.

I expect politicians will be political. However, I also expect them to show basic decency in their action. And I expect them to reveal some desire to make their country better and to protect its citizens and core institutions.

Harper hasn't demonstrated that decency. His drive is to attack his political rivals, their supporters and the nation's institutions. He has weakened the nation's financial underpinnings as well as the its physical and social and cultural environment.

If I were a political leader today, I don't know how I would handle this situation. How do you deal with someone like Harper?

So I'm going to give them all a bit of slack for facing a very difficult situation.

DL said...

I agree with everything you say about Harper, Joseph. But we had a golden opportunity to remove him from power in January and the Liberals decided not to do it and instead have given him lots of time to regroup and regain strength. Its a decision they may live to regret.

When you have your hands around the neck of someone so dangerous and so ruthless - you should know that the only choice is to squeeze hard - not to let him escape.

Steve V said...

"In a perverse way, I like the fact that the NDP is thwarting Steve's election strategy. Just thinking that Steve may be kicking chairs because the goddamn socialists won't let him have an election, makes me smile."

LOL. Hello in there!!! Someone wipe the smile off my face.