Sunday, February 20, 2011

Layton On Question Period

Jack Layton made his first public comments since the Friday meeting with the Prime Minister. I watched the interview, but I decided to re-watch on CTV's video site because the media read seemed a bit off from my "take". It appeared from this interview that initial reactions to Friday's meeting were in error, YES Layton had raised corporate taxes, in fact "a third" of the forty minute meeting was devoted to this topic. This revelation brought the "Layton draws strong line on budget" headline in the Globe and Mail.

Before I put up the text of key portions of the interview, some context. At the end of this meeting, we heard nothing but mutual praise, healthy discussion, productive, blah, blah, blah. On Saturday, we started hearing more pushback language from the Conservatives, rejecting the home heating tax proposal, complaining about the cost of Layton's proposals. At the same time we see anecedotal evidence that this Friday footsie fest was causing some backlash amongst the rank and file. I use social media, plenty of negative commentary on Layton's facebook page as well as non-partisan jabs on twitter- we can dismiss as irrelevant, but I'll bet the farm NDP headquarters were getting the same reaction in a wider sense. So that's the backdrop heading into today's comments from Layton, so one would expect a slightly "firmer" tone from him, given the Conservatives are playing hardball and Layton is out on a dangerous political ledge. Of those two facts I concede as givens, if people want to quibble with that underpinning, that's their perogative because I don't have "evidence", just a sense based on some indications.

Alright, so let's look at "line in the sand" Layton. Here is the corporate tax portion:
Oliver

"You know that's a non starter for the PM, that's end of conversation. He is not giving up anything that has to do with corporate tax cuts, you know that, so why don't you just say it doesn't look like this is going anywhere?"

Layton:

"Well, because we're going to look at the whole budget all together. But, he knows very well our position on corporate taxes is clear, in fact he said so right in the meeting"

Oliver:

"We also hear from people around the PM that your list is way to costly, way to high a pricetag on it and they are fighting to control a burgeoning deficit"

Layton:

"Well they're just not telling the true there, you can't trust the PM and his people on this sort of thing. In fact our proposals are very reasonable, modest, practical and doable"

Where is the line in the sand on corporate taxes? I mean they discussed, Layton said Harper was "puzzled by the Liberals", he acknowledged how consistent the NDP have been over the years, but I don't see anywhere, in this entire interview where Layton said corporate taxes are make or break. IN FACT, we get the "whole budget" consideration, in response to the "what's the point?" question by Oliver. Does that sound like taxes are make or break, or a man who has this other laundry list and is looking for some concessions? I don't see any departure here? We also see Layton disputing the concern about cost, trying to frame his wish list- not corporate taxes- as reasonable and "modest". In other words, Layton is selling his plan as something the government can afford. Layton even goes so far as to argue the government deficit will be lower than forecast.

Then we have this enlightening exchange:
Oliver:

"Is it wise Mr. Layton politically for you to be going to the PM, offering a deal to save them defeat on their budget when you know very well that there is no group of Canadians as fiercely opposed to everything the PM and his party represent?"

Layton:

"Well we of course we take a very practical view of this, get the right thing done and do what we said we would do when so many Canadians voted for us... I'll give you an example, when we forced the Conservatives to consider extending EI during the height of the recession, when jobs were at a premium and people were not able to find work, we got a lot of support. Mr Ignatieff said "time's up Mr. Harper" and we said wait a minute, a billion dollars...if the Conservatives would agree to our proposal there then we would keep the government going to get that done."

Oliver brings up the point of blowback, and Layton returns with practicality, then volunteers the EI climbdown as proof, even says "we would keep the government going". Sorry, but where is the "strong line", sounds more like someone trying to find a deal he can swallow, give me something I can hang my hat on and it's on.

You can watch the entire interview here. What I see is someone walking a tightrope, reacting to the Conservatives strong bargaining position, but still leaving the door open. One will note, no mention of corporate taxes as make or break, Layton moves to seniors, doctors, as what he needs to support. His plea to Canadians are within that context.

Four weeks to go...

22 comments:

WhigWag said...

yeah, I saw the show, and what I read b/w the lines from Layton was this:

he spent the first third of the meeting being lectured to by and bartering with PMS:

that if the NDP agrees to keep attacking the Libs as being hypocritical for not being against corporate taxes all along...

well, then, just maybe they might get something on their wish list besides that (but probably just the token, 'we'll agree to STUDY pension & GIS issues some more,' since they want to keep seniors on side, too, after all; & maybe the reno tax credit, since the middle class like it and they've actually still got some money left over for that since there wasn't as much uptake on it as they expected in the first place).

Thanks, Empty Chamberton: so easily appeased.

Steve V said...

The most telling part of the corporate tax discussion, Layton says they spent time bashing the Liberals. How productive, and also a window into a "third of the time".

leftdog said...

Huh? Are you sure you were watching the same interview that the rest of us watched???

Steve V said...

Oh lapdog, did you miss the link in the post, the reference to the title, the entire point? Good one!

leftdog said...

Huh? My question was/is valid .. did you watch the same interview that I did? What you took from it is not what I got. By the way, 'lapdog' is what I get from blogging tory types. I hadn't realized that you felt the same way.

Steve V said...

They call you that, didn't know. I like my eyesight here thanks.

RayK said...

Oh, good Lord. This is all so silly.

The Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Vancouver Sun may all be jumping to conclusions and presenting their interpretations of what Layton is saying as fact, but it's all just b*llshit speculation.

The NDP's position has been clear and consistent thoughout. The NDP opposes the continuation of the Liberal-Conservative corporate tax cuts. The NDP also has many other priorities--CPP, GIS, home heating and training doctors as far as this budget is concerned.

The unnamed NDP source in the previous Globe article said the rest of the budget would have to be "very good" for the NDP to support it if it did not cancel the corporate tax cuts. Thomas Mulcair has said that it would be "very unlikely" that the NDP would support such a budget. Jack Layton has said he agrees with these comments and that the NDP will look at the budget as a whole before deciding how to vote.

In other words, the NDP isn't going to tell anyone how they'll vote on the budget until after the budget is tabled.

That's really all Jack Layton is saying.

Kirk said...

Well, corporate tax cuts are definitely NOT a make or break issue for the NDP - that's what I get from the interview on CTV.

But will or won't Layton support the budget? Can't really say based on that interview. He's sounding a little tougher there then before but he's definitely open to it. If Harper gives him one of his 4 things I bet he'll support the budget because he's taking the very same approach he did when he last supported the budget.

Steve V said...

I'd say an election looks more likely now, but who knows?

WhigWag said...

They're hardly "Liberal-Conservative corporate tax cuts" if we go by the actual vote, RayK:

as David Akin points out,

"Actually: @BobRae and #LPC MPs have never voted for -- or against -- #CIT cuts. They abstained in 07"

http://deck.ly/~OVCTk

Marpman said...

I think that Harper will throw a bone and the NDP will roll over and the budget will be passed.
I do not know if most Canadian's want an election, this is a common line put forth by the government. However, we seem to have little voice in how Canada is governed between elections..so maybe it is time we had a say.
Even the NDP would have to agree with that. How secure is Layton's seat? Is he more worried about his pension, or about the average Canadian.

rockfish said...

Where's the consistency? In one universe, Layton et al are having nothing to do with the budget, sight unseen. Now, it's all about 'give me a little something sir so i can show my folks at home'... There's a lot at stake in these games, and lets not forget that Harper sees it that way. Shaving points here, shaving points there -- he doesn't need to provide any details on his governing plans. He's got the polls, negative advertising in his corner, now to get Layton to cut his grass on the Liberal lawn...

David said...

poll number three,Nanos, puts the government close to a majority. There will be an election regardless of what Layton wants.

Skinny Dipper said...

I will agree with David. I will add that Harper will design a budget that the NDP will need to oppose. Even if the NDP supports the budget and the budget gets passed, Harper can still call for an election at any time. Calling an election looks better than being defeated on a confidence bill.

Steve V said...

NDP released a memo last night:

“Stephen Harper has shown little indication that he’s willing to stop the political games,” Brad Lavigne writes in an internal memo to NDP candidates and organizers

So clearly responding to the Conservatives rejecting at least some of their list. Also, really stressing corporate taxes now, as they try to reclaim the issue in the face of a looming election.

Robert McClelland said...

Nanos:
Liberals: 26.6%
New Democrats: 18.9%

Has the Liberal Party ever gone up in numbers over the past 5 years when they and their supporters start obsessing over the NDP?

Steve V said...

Deep.

RayK said...

Just for the record these most certainly are Liberal-Conservative tax cuts.

While the Liberals may have allowed the BUDGET to pass by abstaining, they explicitly said they supported the corporate tax cuts and campaigned in 2008 on a proposal to make the cuts even deeper than the Conservative plan passed in '07 and currently being phased in.

Steve V said...

Ray, is that really news? I mean the Liberals themselves admit past support, but that was before the recession, when we were in surplus? Don't get it, big whoop. I supported corporate taxes in the past too, who cares...

RayK said...

I was correcting WhigWag (and by implication David Akin) who was trying to claim that these were not Liberal-Conservative corporate tax cuts based on the fact that the Liberals abstained from the 2007 budget vote.

Steve V said...

Ahhh....

Steve V said...

http://www.rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/murray-dobbin/2011/02/ndp-caves-corporate-tax-cuts