Dion said he will need to hear Prime Minister Stephen Harper's response to four key issues before deciding how to vote after the Oct. 16 speech. They include:
-Canadian notification to NATO that it will end its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2009. The government must make clear the wording of the motion, and confirm how it will vote.
-A commitment to reintroducing Bill C-30 in the new parliamentary season, which is designed to protect the environment and fight the effects of climate change.
-Addressing the manufacturing challenges facing Canada's economy.
-Setting out a plan to combat poverty in Canada.
I'm sure the Tories could agree to the third and fourth points, enough so to allow "wiggle" room for the Liberals. However, I don't see any scenario where the Conservatives re-introduce C-30, as a matter of fact their repeated disdain for the Liberal amendments make it impossible. The NDP plan to re-introduce, through a private members bill, but that is the only way this legislation will see daylight. C-30 is a deal breaker, you can't reconcile the two positions.
As it relates to Afghanistan, I find Dion's demand interesting, because it comes on the same day we hear this admission:
Canada's top general in Afghanistan says NATO is making plans based on the assumption that Canada and the Netherlands will extend their combat missions here past their 2008-09 deadlines.
"We do not plan for a reduction of battalions. It is as simple as that," said Brig.-Gen. Marquis Hainse, deputy commander of NATO forces in the war-torn south. "We have to remind ourselves why we are here in the first place. After 30 years of war (Afghanistan) was a failed state and a clear breeding ground for terrorists and all nations know that terrorists do not stop at their borders."
Harper has made comments about the mission ending in 2009, but that doesn't mean he is prepared to formally commit, in such a transparent way. Hainse's comments endorse the view that Harper is merely buying time, fully intent on extension, once he gets his way. The best the Liberals can hope for is ambiguous language that leaves the door open, hardly enough.
If everyone stays true to their demands and positions, a fall election looks a certainty.