Harper refuses to discuss budget with Layton
When Layton and Harper last spoke on the phone on Dec. 17, Layton said, Harper expressed a desire to meet with him to discuss NDP priorities for the budget. Harper has not called to set up a meeting, and does not plan to do so, said MacDougall, since Layton has made his positions clear.
The Conservatives say the NDP have made their demands public, which is vaguely true on one level, utter nonsense on another. If the Conservatives are truly interested in avoiding an election, one would think high level negotiations with potential suitors would be JOB ONE.
Let's follow the Conservative logic. They don't want an election, but they will present a budget, which may or may not incorporate a few broad soundbite ideas from Layton. The Conservatives will let an election hang in the balance, based on a transcript of a Layton speech, this is how they will avoid the election nobody needs or wants. There will be no formal sit downs, no hashing out, no negotiations, no working out some broad deal, no sense of a government that understands the nature of minority rule? No, what we will see is a unilateral document, that throws a few scraps based on the Conservatives interpretations of what will be palatable to the NDP. Or, the Conservatives are merely going to do what they want and see if the NDP blinks anyways.
No matter the scenario, "refusing" to even meet with the NDP is a clear, irrefutable REBUKE to all this rhetoric from the government's side we are forced to endure, which largely goes unchallenged. Let's say a company wants to avoid a strike. Would Canadians say that said company did what they could to avoid said strike if they refused to even meet with the workers? A loose example, but the point is crystal clear. The Conservatives are playing hardball, they are acting as though they have a majority once again, they are failing to appreciate the nature of minority rule.
If we do head to the polls, this budget "dance" or lack thereof demonstrates why the government is the TRUE obstacle to good government, not deserving of another mandate. The fact that Harper can't be bothered to contact the man who is offering you a lifeline speaks to the style and neuters the Conservative rhetoric. What Harper is doing is playing right into the backup NDP theme- we tried to make Parliament work, but the phone never rang.
The Conservative rhetoric doesn't translate to reality. If we have an election, if we must speak of "blame", then the idea of a minority government that never bothered to discuss with ANY opposition party, well.... There is simply no excuse, no rationalization that can distract from the firm facts at hand. Where's the effort, where's the outreach, where's the "burning the midnight oil" routine, to show Canadians that we've done everything to avoid this "needless election"? Exactly.