Friday, February 13, 2009

More "Kitchen Table" Feedback

I guess maybe it is a good idea to read the budget before you take a "principled" position against it:


Robert McClelland said...

It didn't hurt Duceppe.

Northern PoV said...

Oh these polls are sooo important!

Not this little item:
"Only four per cent of the money from the latest infrastructure programs announced by the Harper government over the past two years has been spent"

So the "stimulus" budget is so bad (as Iggy keeps saying) that we have to support.
And the stimulus $$ will never get out there.
Iggy is up in the polls.
Everybody happy :-)

Greg Fingas said...

I guess maybe it is a good idea to read the budget before you take a "principled" position against it...

Yet supporting the budget implementation bill without reading it is proof of strategic genius. Aren't double standards fun?

Anonymous said...

"I guess maybe it is a good idea to read the budget before you take a "principled" position against it:"

I couldn't agree with you more. More precisely I think this statement should have been directed to Mr.Layton. This guy was ready to vote against the budget even before he was born.

Ted Betts said...

"Only four per cent of the money from the latest infrastructure programs announced by the Harper government over the past two years has been spent"

NPOV: There is a difference - a very big difference - between what a budget says the government will do and what the government actually does. While elected MPs have lost confidence in Harper's competence, Canadians have not. Holding an election now because we "think" they will not follow through on their budget would give them a majority.

On the other hand, trusting Canadians and showing them bit by bit how incompetent they are, how much they are just spin and politics and not substance and action - effectively, re-educating them after 3 years of massive misinformation and Conservative marketing and ineffective opposition - this will help Canadians learn the truth about this government.

WesternGrit said...

Right on!

The point is exactly that. We are ensuring that it is implemented. To any "lay person" the announcements sound great... Tax break here ($20/year), tax break there, a million here, a billion there..

Only a careful "deconstruction" detailing government ignorance will succeed - otherwise we're fighting partisan jab vs. partisan jab - with no solid evidence on our side. With them having more money that we do for the partisan jabs... Not a pretty situation...

Steve V said...

""Only four per cent of the money from the latest infrastructure programs announced by the Harper government over the past two years has been spent"

Congrats to Kennedy, for his tireless work exposing the Conservatives mismanagement, and the need for "probation".

Anonymous said...

"It didn't hurt Duceppe."

The Quebec response stands out. Quebec was happy with everyone's response to the budget, except for Harper's. Quebec seems to be completely fed up on Harper. For the ROC there are small slides in Harper's support, but it is painfully slow.

Mark Richard Francis said...

As an aside, technically, the question posed by NANOS isn't a question, but is rather a request ended by a question mark. Poor grammar.

Good governance defined by common perception is often poor government doing good PR.

It is possible to do good PR, and have good government, and good opposition.

I am not seeing that here.

Steve V said...

"Good governance defined by common perception is often poor government doing good PR."

Mark, please don't equate my position as governing by the polls. However, it's also important to consider that we JUST HAD AN ELECTION and NOBODY wanted the coalition (the issue of national unity, sure to be a consideration for the GG), outside of Quebec.

There's a difference between understanding legitimacy and guidance by polls. I actually shutter to think where we would be, today, had the option gone ahead.

Ted Betts said...

Don't worry about Militant, Steve. He doesn't get it and he doesn't want to. Being relevant and caring what Canadians think is just not in the DNA of the NDP.

I actually have a great deal of respect for those who try to be politically pure. They can bring new ideas to the centrist and moderate parties even if they remain irrelevant as an electoral entity.

I'm with you though. I think there is a responsibility of our leaders and a reasonableness to the idea of balancing ideology and public opinion. We live in a democracy and, in between elections, there is only one way to gauge what Canadians think. Why they care so little about what Canadians think, and talk about it as such a virtue, is really beyond me.

But another last and important point. It seems to me Militant has it the wrong way around. Following your posts, it seems you've stated a belief in the right course of action and then, after, have looked to the polls. And not to support your view but to discredit the claim others, like Militant and CWTF and NPOV, make that Canadians want X or don't like Iggy when the polls clearly show that not to be the case.

In other words, polls are being used as support and not prescription.

Steve V said...


The reason I like polls, it really is one of the only ways to gauge opinion between elections, it provides input from the people, it's another expression of democratic want. The NDP pour over polls, and you'll note they're the first to cite one, when it supports a particular position or stance. Polls are ignored when you're on the losing end, you run to them, when you think you're on to something. Hello.

People liked the coalition, I had problems with legitimacy and the national unity question. It's actually quite dangerous to plow ahead with your pet want, without taking into consideration the consequences, which were so clearly expressed in, yes, POLLS.

The Liberals really had to support the budget, everyone agreed the government had moved, this document so far removed from November, to plow ahead would be greeted with anger (see Layton). People don't want to acknowledge that it is a dance, Harper did what he had to, to survive and we were obliged to move forward. I'm not going to apologize for acknowledging public sentiment, or realizing the media mood, to be frank, only a idiot ignores.

Anyways, I honestly don't care, and I just delete the troll and juvenile crap now, honest disagreement fine. Take it somewhere else, daycare is closed.

Anonymous said...

The problem with relying on polls is that if a minority group gets screwed (e.g., the immigration bill that the Liberals let pass) the majority of the public doesn't care, so what is the appropriate response then Steve? Screw the minority group because there's no votes in it for us? Same on poverty because the poor don't vote should we stop advocating for them? That's what the polls would tell us.

So where do principles come in in your mind? I think that's a fair question Liberals should ask themselves. How do you balance principles with pragmatism?

The NDP is ALL about principles and are completely absent any pragmatism so don't take me as an NDP supporter, but I'd like to see my party have some principles that they are willing to take a stand even if it's not popular to do so.

As a good example WHY THE HELL are the Libs not advocating ANY amendments in committee on the budget implementation bill when IT WOULD NOT cause an election to pass committee amendments?

So regressive pay equity changes that the Liberals SCREAMED LOUDLY against (particularly the female caucus) will pass without a wimper when they could have forced Harper's hand without causing the election evidently no one wants.

Why didn't the Liberals do that Steve? Do you think they should have? Or are there not enough votes in protecting pay equity?

Steve V said...


I wanted amendments too. However, there is some logic in not wanting to go down an endless slope, and end up owning this budget. If you amend a couple items, then you leave the door open for more, other issues arise, and before you know it, you're on the hook for the deficit, because you've inflated it and you can't criticize because you're a co-author. I'm taking a longer term view here, with getting rid of Harper as the goal. We just had an election, a few more months, then we are in position to pounce. It's for that reason, that I can hold by criticism for now, because I see it all as temporary.

All in all, I think we've done a good job meandering through this budget, in terms of setting us up to get rid of these guys. You can't do much until you have the keys to the car, so that's my primary consideration, which is pragmatic.

Ted Betts said...


What pay equity changes?

Changes are coming - we know that because some kind of change was announced vaguely in the budget - but I haven't seen any changes proposed yet by the Conservatives.

Could you enlighten us please?

Anonymous said...

I'm not gonna address the rest of the anon's points but Ted you may want to read the budget implementation bill (see here.

I believe it's under the sections under "wage earner protections"

Paul Wells comments on the 28 pages in the bill making many changes to pay equity laws here. They are essentially the exact same changes as proposed in the fall fiscal update.

Apparently no one else in the media feels this is worth reporting on, I'd say that's a shame.

Ted, Steve, thoughts? Amendments or no? Why?

Ted Betts said...

Thanks Anon. Missed that at the end of the week.

It is actually under the heading Equitable Compensation, not Wage Earners Protection. Not sure where Paul gets 28 pages of amendments from - possibly his printout off his computer? - but it seems more like 7-10 pages and then only half of that since there is side-by-side translation. Plus much of that is just corresponding amendments, i.e. changing other statutes so they correspond with this act.

Having said that, there certainly are changes. I skimmed through it and I can't see any substantive changes, only procedural changes and some of benefit. It looks for the most part like the kind of clean-up amendments the civil servants - the ones who actually deal with this stuff day in day out - have been working on and requesting for some time.

Having said that, procedural changes can cut off substantive justice either deliberately or inadvertently. I've only skimmed the changes so I did not see it. Perhaps Anon 6:04 can illuminate for us what is problematic with these changes and what needs amendment now that it goes to committee.

Anonymous said...

Ted here are three articles on this front (with the relevant quotes below the links):

"Pay Equity Changes Set to Pass with Budget"

"The Conservatives want to prevent government employees from turning to the courts to obtain settlements in pay-equity cases. Instead, they would require female workers to achieve wage parity with their male colleagues through collective bargaining.

The proposal was damned by Liberal, New Democrat and Bloc MPs alike when it was included in the fiscal update in November.

The Liberals say they will back the budget. But they continue to oppose the Conservative proposals on pay equity."

"What You Missed in the Budget Bill"

"In this case, the Conservative attack on pay equity – the idea that men and women should be paid equally for work of equal value – provides the most telling example. Bill C-10 would end the right of federal civil servants to take pay equity complaints to the federal human rights commission. Instead, such issues would have to be dealt with as part of the normal bargaining process between union and management.

And in determining whether wage rates for men and women were fair, any arbitrator would have to take "market forces" into account.

The problem with this is twofold. First, as a federal task force wrote five years ago, collective bargaining involves tradeoffs. But a woman's constitutionally protected right to be paid fairly is hardly something that should be traded away for an extra coffee break.

Equally important is the reference to market forces. Toronto lawyer Mary Cornish points out that pay equity was designed specifically to rectify a failure in the market that permitted systemic wage discrimination against women. To turn around and subordinate equity to this same market is to negate the entire exercise.

She notes that when former Ontario premier Mike Harris made a similar attack on provincial pay equity, the courts slapped him down."

"No evidence pay-equity shift would save money"

" Ottawa prepared no estimates to demonstrate that a controversial and divisive shift in establishing pay equity for 400,000 federal public servants would ultimately save taxpayers money, senior officials acknowledged yesterday.

Under the new regime the Harper government first unveiled in a restraint package last fall, the Canadian Human Rights Commission will be forbidden from hearing complaints from federal public servants on pay equity. That has previously served as the first step in a dispute process that led to litigation forcing Ottawa to dole out big settlements for pay imbalances.

"We can't, per se, tell you we are going to save money, other than to tell you we will not be tied into protracted litigation over those issues," a Treasury Board official said during a background briefing yesterday.

Critics pounced on the comments as further evidence that the changes - opposed by pay-equity advocates - are being fuelled by ideology rather than sound policymaking

Under the new system, public-sector unions and government would be jointly responsible for resolving pay-equity concerns during contract negotiations - deals that union rank and file will ultimately have to bless.

This will leave workers to fight grievances on their own. Unions will face big fines if they help mount complaints."

A possible amendment would just to remove the pay equiry provisions from the budget since there is no proof they save money. I think I prefer to trust women's groups over what's wrong with these new provisions than to trust Stephen Harper that they're innocent.

Anonymous said...

I would add as well that it could be argued that similar provisions were struck down by the courts in Ontario so if these provisions face a constitutional challenge the preovisions will LOSE the government money through litigation they might lose and just be a waste of everyone's time while try to bargain away women's rights that should have never been placed as something to be decided in "bargaining" in the first place.