Monday, February 04, 2008

Conservatives Back Down

The government is set to reverse itself over the 1 billion dollar community assistance fund. No longer tied to the budget, the Conservatives will introduce the measure alone today:
After coming under heavy criticism, the Harper government is doing an about-face and promising immediate help for struggling one-industry towns.

Federal sources said the Tories will table a motion Monday calling on Parliament to immediately approve their $1-billion community development fund.

The government previously said the fund would only go forward if the opposition passed the federal budget.

I guess the only question, why? Obviously, the notion of holding these communities hostage, part of a political power struggle, presents horrible optics for the government. Maybe more than that, I think the Conservatives may have concluded that the budget is unlikely to pass and they don't want this issue around during the election. If the aid package passes, then Harper has another talking point, a concrete initiative to help struggling economies, something to blunt the obvious opposition criticisms. That reality is far more attractive than the spectre of all the opposition parties pointing to political opportunism over good government during a campaign.

I read this "flip" as a calculation that an election is likely, that the government can't successfully use this issue to force passage of the budget. Looking at the fallout, much better to have something tangible, rather than the failed argument of blaming the opposition. In addition, the Conservatives can now argue that they didn't flip, but were merely recognizing the need for immediate action.


Steve V said...

A government official bristled at the suggestions of a flip-flop on the fund.

"The prime minister has always said this would require the approval of
Parliament," he said.

"This is what he's seeking."

They better come with something more effective than this lame reasoning.

Dame said...

Cookies for Vote buying... the way it was tossed out last year in every little opportunity IN NOT WORKING ANY MORE ...
lots of Things are not working what last year was a Sure Winner,,
the whole atmosphere of blindfolding Canadians by Harper's Party just gets less and less "results " and working the other way..
Harper looks kind of confused lately ... nothing “works'

ottlib said...

More likely there internal polling told them that their first course of action was a non-starter particularly in Quebec where the Quebec media savaged the Conservatives for it.

The Conservatives have been showing consistant signs of erosion in support in province and they are going to be increasingly desperate to reverse any kind of trend in that direction before it really takes hold.

Anonymous said...

1 billion dollars less to play with in a future Liberal budget.

The Ontario numbers are poor for Harper. He needs this through ASAP.

wilson said...

Blackburn said today that the Bloc (and Dippers) were voting against the budget, so PMSH wanted to make sure, if the budget didn't pass, Canadians got the $1B for retraining programs (yeh, and not Dion's proposed green plan )

Just clearing the decks for an election that 70% of Canadians don't want.

Gayle said...

wilson - surely by now you realize your tendancy to make these drive by posts, without ever acknowledging when other posters point out the complete falsehoods contained therein leaves you with absolutely no credibility.

Who are you trying to convince here anyway?

Gayle said...

Today on Duffy the conservative spinmeister tried to play this all as the conservatives being conciliatory.

If that is true, and time will tell if it is (I have my doubts), it may be that Harper has finally realized he does not have a majority, and that he actually has to listen to the elected representatives of 60 plus% of the citizens.

burlivespipe said...

After Wilson's bi-daily burp, its apparent that Harper's tea-leave reader felt that all the recent bad publicity of bagging committee chairpeople in the middle of the night, gagging the petri-dish class and tying political debates into racial divides wasn't getting him the coverage he wants. Reverse course on his bribe is an attempt to soften ol' Mr Hardcase.
But the damage is done, and no one should be surprised that alot of the pressure came from inside his own team, which is getting abundantly anxious on this control freak's manners.
A one-man wrecking crew, he is.

Steve V said...


The funny part about the "concilatory" nonsense, it was the Cons who took the hardline "budget or else" approach in the first place. Now, when they realize the budget might be defeated, they don't want Duceppe running all over competitive areas of Quebec crying about the abandoned forest industry. Get it off the table, that's all this is about.

Steve V said...


You made a comment earlier about Harper being off his game. I would agree, the Cons seem pretty eratic right now, fairly reactionary. A good sign, they no longer look in control of the agenda.