Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Harmonized tax to hit consumers hard.

Well golly gee at 77 I am so glad that diapers will be exempted from the new tax. Oh right I may end up wearing them forgot that! Anyway it is the Conservatives that are supposed to always be supporting business at the expense of the consumer but BC. and Ontario are both Liberal governments. Lets face it the business lobby is just more powerful than any consumer lobby and are able to get the ear of governments Liberal or Conservative. While businesses save 6.9 billion by the change consumers are gifted with a 1.5 percentage point increase on consumption tax at a time when many consumers are already reeling the effects of the recession.

Harmonized tax to hit consumers hard

Karen Howlett and Ian Bailey
Toronto and Vancouver — From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Consumers will bear the brunt of proposed tax changes in Ontario and British Columbia while businesses reap windfall savings of $6.9-billion, a new report says.
For the first time, economists have put a price tag on the value-added taxes the two provinces plan to introduce July 1, showing that the tax rate on consumption will jump 1.5 percentage points for consumers.
The report prepared by economists at Toronto-Dominion Bank could have caused a political headache in Ontario for Premier Dalton McGuinty. But the impact of its release Friday was somewhat blunted, having come one day after the Liberals sailed to victory in a by-election in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's, despite attempts by opposition candidates to turn the race into a referendum on the harmonized sales tax.
Ontario New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath called the timing “awfully fishy.” A spokesman for Revenue Minister John Wilkinson said he was pleased with the report, regardless of the timing.
“It's probably the first time that people from the left, the right, the middle – people from all political persuasions have come together, as well as labour and business and seniors and students,” Mr. Vander Zalm said in an interview Friday.
Once the provinces combine their PST with the GST, the new tax will be 13 per cent in Ontario and 12 per cent in B.C.
Businesses will reap huge savings because they will be able to claim rebates. But consumers will end up paying the new tax on goods and services that are currently exempt from any tax. Both provinces have attempted to take the sting out of harmonization by exempting goods such as diapers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Filipino community rallies to support flood victims

The Winnipeg Fillipino community always seems to come together to help out their fellow Filipinos back in the Philippines. Many will have lost their homes and all their possessions. Even in normal times many Filipino families depend upon Filipinos in other countries to help them economically. We have a daughter in Manila but she is fine as she lives in a high rise and the rest of the family is on the other side of Luzon in Legazpi and they are OK as well.

Filipino community rallies after flood
Last Updated: Monday, September 28, 2009
CBC News
Winnipeg's Filipino community is shocked by the devastation of the weekend flood in the Philippines, and is trying to raise money for disaster relief. (Mike Alquinto/Associated Press)
Winnipeg's large Filipino community is rallying to raise funds for disaster relief after a flood triggered by a tropical storm in their homeland killed 240 and left thousands homeless.
The National Disaster Co-ordinating Council said the homes of almost 1.9 million people were inundated, with nearly 380,000 people forced to take shelter in schools, churches and other evacuation centres.
Winnipeg's Romeo De Luna told CBC News on Monday he lost two cousins in the flood. He heard the news Sunday.
"They were going to the roof of their home in order to be safe from the flood," De Luna said. "The wife found out her younger sister is still in the house so she decided to go back and get her.
"That's when the flash flood happened and they were trapped inside," he said.
The flooding was set off after Tropical Storm Ketsana hit the northern portion of the Philippines on Saturday.
The government has declared a "state of calamity" in 25 provinces and in metropolitan Manila, which has a population of about 20 million.
De Luna said he and his wife are now trying to help plan two funerals from thousands of miles away.
Most of Winnipeg's 60,000 Filipinos maintain close ties to their homeland and have been glued to their TVs since Saturday waiting for any news.
Roslyn Pamplona of the Filipino Evangelical Church said he's tried phoning and texting relatives, but has had no luck so far and is very worried.
"It's a mixture of feeling, shock and yet worry, concern and consequences drove me to my knees in prayer," Pamplona said.
Pamplona says Sunday services at the Spruce Street church were sombre yesterday.
However, a well-oiled local fundraising machine has been ramped up, said Fred Devilla of the Winnipeg Filipino Disaster Relief Committee.
Devilla said his goal is to raise $15,000 for the Red Cross by Saturday.
"Filipine people need help. … It's just like you're drowning, you need to save them," he said.
The committee is appealing to all Winnipeggers to donate.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Liberals to table non-confidence motion today (Sep. 28)

The NDP really cannot afford to prop up the Conservatives even to bring in some EI benefits. This is just a sop to buy the NDP off and nothing as strong as the NDP is supposed to stand for on EI reform. The Liberals will phrase the non-confidence motion to stick it to the NDP. Many of the rank and file NDP supporters will not be happy with this roll over and beg for an EI tid bit act by Layton. This is from the Time Colonist. Meanwhile Ignatieff has flip flopped on the Outremont flap and allowed Cauchon to run and this has cause Coderre to resign as Quebec Lieutenant for Ignatieff.

Liberals to table non-confidence motion today

By David Akin, Canwest News ServiceSeptember 28, 2009 8:14 AM

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal party will release the text Monday afternoon of its non-confidence motion that MPs will be expected to vote on Thursday.
The Liberals want to bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government and force a general election but, to do that, MPs from all three opposition parties must vote in favour of the Liberal non-confidence motion. It appears, though, that the NDP will stand with the government Thursday.
Brad Lavigne, the NDP's national director, appeared on television shows Sunday saying his party's first priority is to see government legislation that would extend the maximum amount of time some people can receive employment insurance benefits approved by the Commons. That legislation, the government says, would help about 190,000 people who are nearing the end of their benefit period.
Ralph Goodale, the Liberal MP from Saskatchewan and his party's House leader, said the motion to be tabled Monday will be unambiguous.
"We want to play this straightforward, very straight-up," Goodale said.
The motion could be as simple as "Be it Resolved that this House has no confidence in the government."
Confidence motions, though, are typically a little longer than that, with a pre-amble that sets out the reasons why the party proposing the motion does not have confidence in the government.
"This government cannot be trusted in terms of its numbers," Liberal MP David McGuinty said Monday morning after meeting with party leader Michael Ignatieff and his closest advisers.
The Bloc Quebecois has already indicated it will vote with the Liberals and against the government on Thursday's vote.
The Liberals believe they can score some political points at the NDP's expense and the wording of their confidence motion is part of the strategy to do just that.
The preamble in the Liberal confidence motion could, for example, indict the government for failing to act on some issues that are core parts of the NDP's agenda, such as more robust employment insurance reform.
Ignatieff said last week he does not want to give the NDP anywhere to "hide."
The timing of the confidence motion is connected to the release Monday of the government's third quarterly update on its economic stimulus plan.
In exchange for Liberal support last spring of the budget, the Conservatives agreed to table quarterly updates on some of the objectives and benchmarks outlined in the budget. As part of that Liberal-Conservative agreement last spring, both sides agreed that the Liberals would have the chance to introduce this confidence motion three days after the government tables this third report.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ignatieff promises cuts, spending.

The article below is from the Ottawa Citizen.
Certainly Ignatieff is correct that the Harper government has consistently changed its predictions about the deficit upwards--but the same is true of the Liberal govt. of Ontario. Ignatieff's promise of spending cuts gives absolutely no guidance as to where he thinks cuts could be made. I doubt it will be to supporting the Afghan mission! At the same time Ignatieff claims he will pour money into various new programs such as rebuilding infrastructure. This is all very well but in the absence of any information about how much and where he will make spending cuts this is little but self-serving rhetoric. Harper can simply portray Ignatieff as a big spender Liberal who will make the deficit even higher!

Ignatieff promises cuts, spending

By James Cowan, Canwest News ServiceSeptember 22, 2009

Michael Ignatieff accused Conservatives Monday of making a "mess" of the country's finances, saying it is now impossible to tell what spending cuts are needed to eliminate the projected $56-billion deficit.
The Liberal leader said his party would cut government expenditures in a bid to rebalance the budget. But he offered no specifics about possible cuts, saying the Conservatives' "wishful projections" make it difficult to determine the deficit's size. "Upon taking office, we'll conduct a full audit of our public finances. We'll open the books and find out where we really are," he told the Toronto Board of Trade. "That's step one."
The current government has repeatedly hiked the projected size of the deficit for the current fiscal year, from $36 billion in January's budget to $50 billion in May to $56 billion earlier this month. "I can't tell you if it will be $60 billion at Christmas," Ignatieff said after the speech.
While calling for spending cuts, Ignatieff also said his party would pour money into new programs aimed at stimulating the economy. A Liberal government would fund job training programs, help manufacturers buy new equipment and provide additional support for high-tech sectors, he said. There would also be increased funding for public transit, roads, water systems, bridges and Internet infrastructure.
Ignatieff said his party would also fund trade missions to improve trade with India and China. The Liberal plan stands in contrast with the vision put forward by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he said.
"Our proposition to Canadians is that you can't get growth unless government leads. Mr. Harper's proposition is 'just let it happen, it will all work out in the end.' Well, it won't all work out in the end unless you have a government that invests strategically," he said.
While offering few details, Ignatieff did rule out funding the new programs with tax hikes.
The Liberal caucus announced earlier this month that it would no longer support the Conservatives in the House of Commons and would actively begin pushing for the government's downfall and an ensuing election. Harper's government survived a non-confidence vote last week with the support of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ontario budget shortfall 6.4 billion rather than 3.9 billion predicted.

It seems that Liberals and Conservatives are equally adept at downplaying deficits in their predictions. However when this happens each is as adept at the other at blaming each other. This is from the Star.

Provincial budget shortfall leaps to $6.4 billion

Ontario keeps spending in line but deficit jumps as corporate revenue falls an `unprecedented' 48%
Sep 26, 2009 04:30 AM
Robert Benzie Queen's Park Bureau Chief
Ontario's budget shortfall last year was $6.4 billion – far greater than the $3.9 billion predicted in March – because corporate tax revenues plunged almost by half, says Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Elizabeth May claims Harper may provoke an election

Actually it looks as if Ignatieff has decided to force an election if he is able to do so. He has ads out and is unveiling parts of a policy platform on the economy. Harper may be happy enough to face off though with Ignatieff being blamed. Of course this is a bit ridiculous anyway since all three opposition parties must vote against the government. If Ignatieff tries to pull back from confronting Harper he may find himself being faced with bills that he cannot swallow as Harper will take advantage of the Liberal decline in the polls to dare them to pull the plug. This is from the Chronicle Herald.

May says Harper may spark election
By STEPHEN MAHER Ottawa BureauFri. Sep 25 - 4:46 AM

OTTAWA — Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is predicting that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will find a way to engineer an election this fall, even as he attacks Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff for trying to send Canadians to the polls.
"Wouldn’t it be just like Harper to decide that things are looking good for him right now and force Jack Layton into a compromise that even Jack can’t twist himself into," said Ms. May.
Conservatives were quick to dismiss her suggestion.
"This is totally inconsistent with anything I’ve heard and everything we’re working on," said one senior Conservative strategist.
"That’s absolutely ridiculous," said Conservative party spokesman Fred DeLorey. "We do not want an unnecessary and wasteful election. The economy is our No. 1 priority and we will continue to implement our economic action plan."
At the beginning of the month, Mr. Ignatieff said that his Liberals would no longer vote for the Tories on confidence measures, which could have led to an election. But the Tories announced a plan to put $1 billion more into employment insurance over three years and the NDP said they will support the Tories at least until that is passed.
Most observers concluded that the risk of an election had been averted until at least the spring, after the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
But Ms. May said she has begun to suspect that Mr. Harper is likely to strike soon, while Mr. Ignatieff is still paying a price in the polls for threatening to spark an election.
"I think one is wise never to assume that Stephen Harper won’t do the most take-no-prisoners style of politics possible at any moment," she said.
An Ekos poll released Thursday showed the Tories at 37 points, the Liberals at 29 and the NDP at 14, continuing a trend of rising Conservative fortunes.
Ms. May points out that Mr. Harper wrong-footed then-Liberal Leader Stephane Dion a year ago by breaking his government’s own fixed-date election law and going to the polls when the Liberals looked weak. She said she thinks there is a 50-50 chance he will do it again.
"Why would he not say Ignatieff is plummeting in the polls since this whole thing started?" she said. "Our ads have ramped up. His ads aren’t doing much for the Liberals. We can go to the polls now and everyone will still blame Ignatieff. That’s the key thing. If we go to the polls now, voters will still think it was the Liberal guy who did it to us."
Parliament Hill insiders say the NDP is in financial trouble and is not ready for an election, which is why they’ve been forced to back the Tories now.
Brad Lavigne, a senior NDP strategist, wouldn’t comment. "I don’t speculate on hypotheticals," he said.
Ms. May said it would be hard for Mr. Layton to keep his caucus behind him, money problems or not, if Mr. Harper tries to push a poison pill down their throats.
"Jack has already got Joe Comartin, Peggy Nash and lots of people in that caucus not so happy," she said. "So what the heck is he going to do if Harper says OK, the next confidence measure includes — who knows what he’ll do? — something to do with women’s rights, some commitment about military engagement in Afghanistan."
Ms. May, long a harsh critic of Mr. Harper, said the he likes to control the agenda.
"He likes being in control," she said. "That’s why he brought in a ways and means motion on Sept. 18, to jump the gun on the Liberal motion. Stephen Harper’s signature character definition is he’s a control freak. In the vagaries of a minority government, he doesn’t want to have a government that depends on reaching out to other parties, achieving consensus, moving forward based on giving a bit here, giving a bit there. He sees the exercise of governing as a tactical endeavour in which winning the election is everything."
A spokesman for Mr. Harper declined to ponder Ms. May’s theory.
"Liz May who?" said Dimitri Soudas.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ignatieff unveils economic plan.

Of course the big deficit that Ignatieff goes on about is in part a result of the fact that as with Bush in the US Harper jettisoned his free market shibboleths in the light of the financial crisis and spent large sums on a stimulus package and to bail out the system. Elsewhere Ignatieff has suggested that a difference between Liberals and the Conservatives are that the Liberals think taxes can be useful in financing beneficial programs. Yet in this article Ignatieff sounds very Conservative in his rejection of taxes as part of his program. With a ballooning deficit it would be interesting to know how Ignatieff intends to keep the deficit from growing even more.
Much of Ignatieff's plan seems to be to carp on and on about Harper's free market ideology!

Ignatieff unveils economic plan - Canada - Ignatieff unveils economic plan

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff outlines his plans for economic recovery to the Star in Ottawa Sept. 18, 2009.
Liberal leader to use board of trade speech to pitch party vision
September 21, 2009 Susan DelacourtOttawa Bureau
OTTAWA–Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is in Toronto today to nail down the key planks of his economic platform – growth, green jobs and a role for government in the economy.
He's also expected to talk about what's not in the platform – specifically tax increases, which Ignatieff says run counter to the Liberals' plan for growth as an economic-recovery strategy.
"The only way out of this thing is to get the economy growing and you can't get growth if you increase the burden on Canadians at exactly the moment when they need all the help they can get from government," Ignatieff told the Star ahead of today's speech to the Toronto Board of Trade.
It comes the same week that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will head to the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, showcasing much the same message he delivered last week to a New York business audience – that Canada weathered the recession better than many nations and is strongly placed for recovery.
Ignatieff, on the other hand, will argue today that Canada is poised to flounder in the restructured economy, because Harper's government has racked up a deficit that now stands at $55.9-billion and has no real strategy to lead Canadians into a new economy.
The idea of government as a helping force in the economy is a defining difference between the Conservatives and Liberals, he says.
"Maybe before the world economic disaster you could indulge in the kind of free-market ideology that Mr. Harper grew up on in the 1980s," Ignatieff said.
"(But) there isn't a Canadian who doesn't understand that when the markets tanked, there was only one place to go for safety – and that was to government. Not big government, not tax-and-spend government, but government that protects Canadian savings, Canadian pensions, Canadian mortgages and Canadians."
The policy proposals Ignatieff is expected to advance today include an aggressive effort to find markets in India and China; investments in plant machinery, green-energy solutions, more research-and-development spending and programs to help firms hire new workers.
"How did we get growth in the 1990s through 2006? Because (former prime minister) Jean Chrétien invested in science and technology; poured money into post-secondary education ... The Harper government seems to think that growth happens by itself."
Ignatieff, whose party voted non-confidence in the government Friday, is in the midst of a concerted effort to put himself and his party's positions forward more forcefully.

The uniting theme in his speeches is the accusation of Conservative absence and inaction.
"We've got a government whose ideology was created for a world that has vanished," he said. "We need to offer Canadians a vision of government in which we have a strategy for growth; that protects what we care about, which is health care and pensions and a decent education for our kids."
Ignatieff has not explained how he intends to do so without raising taxes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ignatieff on the difference between Liberals and Conservatives

So the Conservatives can now attack Ignatieff as one of those tax and spend Liberals. However when it comes to the crunch Ignatieff will abandon the collection of taxes for all those marvelous programs that will make Canada a better place and like his Tweedle Dee partner the Conservatives will opt for no tax hikes in the name of fostering the recovery". This is from the Star.

""He's also expected to talk about what's not in the platform – specifically tax increases, which Ignatieff says run counter to the Liberals' plan for growth as an economic-recovery strategy. ""

Ignatieff's spin on the Liberal/Conservative divide
By Michael Ignatieff
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff outlined his economic strategy yesterday in a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade. This is an edited version of the conclusion of that speech.
This brings me to the fundamental distinction between Stephen Harper and the Liberal Party.
Back in July, after the G8 Summit in Italy, Mr. Harper gave an interview in which he said, and I quote:
"I don't believe that any taxes are good taxes."
Think about that for a moment.
It's an astonishing statement for a prime minister to make.
We pay taxes, Mr. Harper, so premature infants get nursing care when they're born; so policemen will be there to keep our streets safe; so we have teachers to give our kids a good education.
We pay taxes, Mr. Harper, because we're all in this together.
It costs us something, but it makes Canada the place it is: A place where we look out for each other.
But Stephen Harper doesn't think that way.
Stephen Harper thinks no taxes are good taxes because he believes that the only good government is no government at all.
Liberals say no.
We don't believe in big government, but we do believe in good government. If we give up on good government the way Mr. Harper has, then we will cease to exist as one great people sharing one great country -- and Liberals will never let that happen.
That's the difference between us and them.
That's the difference between Stephen Harper and me.
His is an ideology of the past. An ideology that's contemptuous of anyone who sees government as a means to do good.
It's an ideology that vaporized the day Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy a year ago.
When Wall Street crashed, even the most ardent free marketeers turned to government to save the free market.
The last year has proved government's value, as the guarantor of risk of last resort in the capitalist system.
The last year blew Stephen Harper's ideology out of the water.
You can't get growth without good government. But growth alone is not enough.
Canadians want their economy to grow again so that we can be the just and compassionate society we want to be.
And let's be honest, we're not as just or as compassionate as we could be. We still have promises to keep.
Last week in Ottawa, I met a man who is suffering from ALS -- Lou Gehrig's Disease. It's debilitating, tragic and terminal.
His wife came with him and they told me that under the EI system, she can only access six weeks of benefits for compassionate leave to look after the man she loves.
Six weeks of compassionate leave.
Is that the best that Canada can do?
We've just got to find the resources, the growth in our economy, so we can keep our promises to the people -- like that loving wife -- who represent the best of us.
Recession must not make us mean. It must not divide Canada into two -- into haves and have-nots.
Of the 30 wealthiest countries in the world we've got the seventh-largest GDP per capita.
But where do you think we rank in terms of poverty? Nineteenth.
Or infant mortality? Twenty-fourth.
That's what I mean when I say, "we can do better." A Liberal government will grow our economy so we can invest in national early learning and childcare, for every Canadian child.
A Liberal government will grow our economy so we can improve our health care system, with a national strategy for health promotion.
And so we can help our seniors age with dignity, by securing pensions and strengthening the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
That's why we need growth.
We can restore our faith in our government and in ourselves.
And as we near our country's 150th birthday, in 2017, we can build a prosperous, compassionate Canada, proud of our achievements, and ready to take on the world and win.
We can do better -- and we will.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Layton delves into uncharted waters to keep Harper afloat.

While Layton and Duceppe were no doubt both wise to let the home renovation tax credit measure pass the EI changes are more controversial. Even this might be defensible but Layton also insists on keeping the Tory government in power until the EI changes become law which would take up to two months and would mean that the NDP could prop the Tories up when the Liberals present a non-confidence motion assuming they will do so. This would make a laughing stock of the NDP. The Conservatives have done nothing to sweeten the EI legislation to make it more in line with NDP policy. If the NDP is worried about their poll numbers now, they will have even more worries if they keep propping up a government they have been bad mouthing ever since it took power.

Layton delves into uncharted waters to keep Harper afloat

Steven Chase and Bill Curry
Ottawa — From Saturday's Globe and Mail
The future of Stephen Harper's minority government now apparently rests in the hands of Jack Layton's New Democrats, who have previously made a virtue of opposing Tory legislation.
As expected, Mr. Harper's Conservatives survived a parliamentary confidence vote on several budget measures Friday after both the Bloc Québécois and NDP voted in their favour – with the Liberals opposing.
But later that day, Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe took to the microphone to make it clear that the Tories should not count on his party's support in future confidence votes.
Mr. Duceppe emphasized that while he continues to support a popular home renovation tax credit approved in yesterday's budget vote, he has no interest in propping up the Tories on a regular basis. He suggested the NDP would be the only party keeping Mr. Harper in office.
He said the Bloc would vote against the Conservatives in motions that test parliamentary support for Mr. Harper.
“If they ask if we have confidence in that government, the answer is clear: N-O, no.”
How long the Conservatives can continue to govern before facing another election apparently depends on how long Mr. Layton can justify propping them up. The Tories can survive as long as one rival supports them, or abstains, during confidence votes.
The NDP has shown scant enthusiasm for an election, which might cost it seats. It latched on to extensions to the Employment Insurance program unveiled by the Tories this week as a reason to delay a trip to the polls. The New Democrats say they're now prepared to keep the Conservatives in power until the EI changes become law, a process that could take roughly six to eight weeks to complete.
While Mr. Layton can rely on election fatigue among Canadians to buttress his position right now, he still faces the risk of a backlash from left-leaning supporters for backing the right-wing Conservatives.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff returns to the House of Commons after speaking to reporters in the wake of the minority Conservative government's budget motion passing with the support of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois on Sept. 18, 2009.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, whose party has pledged to defeat the Tories as soon as possible, is planning a no-confidence motion for early October. He needs both the Bloc's and the NDP's support to succeed, but was gleeful Friday at the prospect of political misfortune for his rivals if they keep backing the Conservatives.
“Jack and Gilles have gone up the hill, and we know how that little fairy tale ends,” Mr. Ignatieff joked Friday.
Mr. Layton played down concerns expressed by others in his party – NDP president Peggy Nash and caucus members such as Windsor-area MP Joe Comartin – that the Tory EI bill is inadequate and will leave out many unemployed, particularly former auto sector workers.
He said NDP supporters can live with the decision to back the Tories if it leads to improvements to EI. “Our supporters prefer that we work for them rather than having an election that no one wants.”
But Tories Friday showed no interest in amending Bill C-50, the new EI legislation, to address NDP concerns.
Mr. Layton was unfazed, saying he hopes to use private members' bills to make more changes to the EI program.
“It's true there are a lot of people who need help that this legislation will not give them, but we have 12 bills before the House of Commons to try and correct the issues with EI in order to help seasonal workers for example.”
Mr. Layton's plan to remedy NDP concerns about EI through private members' bills – legislation not sponsored by government – is a long shot. Only a handful of these ever become law because it often takes years for them to move through the system.
Mr. Duceppe said he cannot support the government's EI bill, which he says does nothing for Quebec's unemployed forestry workers. He also blocked efforts by the other parties to have the bill sent quickly to committee for study after a second reading vote.
He said the only reason the NDP is voting to avoid an election is because the party knows it will lose seats. “They are scared of having an election, period,” Mr. Duceppe said. “Look at the polls.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Canada tries to block IAEA from passing motion for Israel to join NPT

Rather interesting that Canada goes even further than the US, no doubt with US support, and attempts to condemn the resolution as unbalanced. It is not explained how it is unbalanced. Iran is a member of the NPT (non-proliferation treaty)
The reaction of the Conservative government is interesting in that the Liberal government took a different tack when Cuba joined the NPT many years ago.

""On September 20, Canadian Foreign Minster Bill Graham succinctly voiced the sentiments of many of his counterparts around the world: "This is a significant step for Cuba and an important gesture in support of a multilateral, rules-based system governing disarmament and non-proliferation... Cuba's decision will make it part of a community of 188 states that are members of the NPT. Its accession will bring the NPT, the most widely adhered-to arms control treaty in existence, one state closer to universality. Canada calls on India, Israel and Pakistan, states that have not signed the NPT, to follow Cuba's example and accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states."" """

NOTE: Obviously if Israel were inspected by the IAEA it would be found that it already has nuclear weapons. Oh no! They did it all on the sly too and imprisoned for years Mordechai Vanunu who blew the whistle on them.

Here is the article re Israel's rejection of the call to join NPT.

Israel ‘Deplores’ IAEA Call to Join NPT
Posted By Jason Ditz On September 18, 2009 @ 6:06 pm
The Israeli government has officially said that it “deplores” the vote by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) member states to call on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and submit their nuclear facilities to the same oversight as the rest of the world does.
The vote narrowly passed, 49-45, and was generally opposed by Western nations while being supported by UN Security Council permanent members Russia and China, as well as most of the nations in the Middle East.
The United States ambassador Glyn Davies publicly rejected the resolution, calling it “redundant” and claiming that calling on Israel to join the NPT as every other nation in the Middle East has unfairly singled them out.
Canada went one step further, trying to block the vote entirely and condemning it as “unbalanced.” Votes on similar resolutions had been successfully blocked in 2007 and 2008, but this year’s attempt at blocking it failed.
The issue of Israel as a nuclear power and a non-signatory of the NPT has been controversial, and when a US State Department official said in May that the US wanted everyone to join the NPT Israel reacted with shock and outrage.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Polls Point to likelihood of Tories being saved for a while!

I actually think that it is a good idea to support the Conservative government on the EI and home improvement tax credit. However, it makes Harper's carping about the NDP and the Bloc co-operating the Liberals look rather foolish. Now those horrible separatists and socialists are voting for Harper policies. Must be something wrong with them! Iggy has a reprieve as well he can bellow and blow all he wants and vote against the government in perfect safety..
However, Harper can always blow this brief period of co-operation by introducing legislation that none of the opposition will support. There still could be an election provoked later in the session. If the Conservatives get far enough ahead of the Liberals they could very well provoke an election and Iggy would no doubt be forced to go into battle or completely loose face.

Conservative lead widens in poll
Last Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2009 9:53 AM ET
CBC News
The Conservatives have widened their lead over the Liberal Party, a new poll suggests, as federal election speculation continues.
The EKOS poll, commissioned for the CBC and released Thursday, shows the Tories with 35.1 per cent support, followed by the Liberals with 29.9 per cent. The New Democratic Party followed with 16.5 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois with 9.6 per cent and the Green Party with 9 per cent.
The Conservative lead increased slightly from last week’s poll, which saw the Tories with 34.2 per cent of support and the Liberals with 30.8 per cent. The NDP rose from 14.8 per cent, the Bloc slipped from 10 per cent, and the Green Party slipped from 10.1 per cent.
Respondents were asked which party they would vote for if a federal election were held tomorrow.
Ontario continues to look like a tight race for the Conservatives and Liberals. As well, there appeared to be little change in Quebec, with the Bloc still on top with 39 per cent, followed by the Liberals (27 per cent) and the Tories (16 per cent).
The Liberal vow to try to bring down the government at their first opportunity has fuelled election speculation. But the NDP said on Wednesday it will align itself with the Conservatives in order to pass a Tory plan to extend employment insurance for long-tenured workers — a move that could rule out an election in the near future.
The poll also found that party platform plays a major role in how many Canadians vote.
Around 42 per cent of those polled said that was the most important factor in determining which party they would vote for. Twenty-two per cent said party leader was the most important factor and 19 per cent placed most importance with the local candidate. About 19 per cent said none of the above.
The survey of 3,164 people was conducted by telephone between Sept. 9 and Sept. 15, 2009 and has an error margin of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Both landline and cellphone users were included.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Obama on Buy American: Talk but no action.

Obama talks the talk repeatedly but doesn't do anything. He probably has other things on his mind right now such as health care, Afghanistan, and maybe even Acorn! This is from The Star.

Sticking to a script? Obama's comments have a familiar ring
U.S. President Barack Obama on the subject of Buy America provisions following a meeting with Stephen Harper:
Aug. 10 in Guadalajara
• "I want to assure you that your prime minister raises this with me every time we see each other."
• "I do think it's important to keep this in perspective. This in no way has endangered the billions of dollars of trade taking place between our two countries."
And yesterday in Washington
• "Prime Minister Harper, I want to emphasize, has brought this up every single time we've met, so he's been on the job on this issue"
• "I do want to keep things in perspective. U.S.-Canadian trade continues to be robust ... There is no prospect of any budding trade wars between our two countries."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harper claims Buy American policy big risk to global economy

A bit ironic that Harper the great admirer of U.S. conservatism should be chastising the Americans on Fox News of all places! Harper is spouting the standard global capitalist line. Obama himself is a bit more subdued because emphasizing global free trade is not all that popular in the U.S. during a period when times are tough and U.S. jobs are still disappearing often outsourced. All of this is good for corporate donations especially when many Canadian businesses depend upon exports to the US so that Buy American policies can be quite damaging to those companies. Requirements that there be country of origin labels on meat products is also a burden to many Canadian producers.

Harper tells U.S. Buy American 'biggest risk' to global economy

The protectionist move could spark retaliation by Canadian cities and provinces, shutting U.S. companies out of key projects, the prime minister said in an interview with Fox News

By Sheldon Alberts, Canwest News ServiceJune 13, 2009

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a personal appeal to the United States on Friday to abandon controversial Buy American rules governing its $787 billion US economic stimulus package, warning the country risks triggering a trade war with Canada and sending the "worst possible signal" to the rest of the world.
In an interview with Fox News Channel, Harper said the U.S. faced a "significant threat" of retaliation over the Buy American clause from Canadian provinces and cities that intend on shutting U.S. companies out of bidding on Canadian infrastructure projects.
"Quite frankly the biggest risk we have to global economy recovery is an increase in protectionism," Harper told Fox host Neil Cavuto in a wide-ranging discussion on the economy and Canada-U.S. bilateral issues.
"The worst possible signal that we could send to the world right now would be an increase in protection and particularly a procurement trade war between Canada and the United States."
Harper's call for the reversal of the Buy American provisions came a day after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters joined forces to demand the prime minister and President Barack Obama take a leadership role on the issue.
Companies on both sides of the border complain they're already losing millions of dollars in stimulus contracts because of Buy American provisions that mandate only U.S.-produced steel, iron and manufactured goods be used in stimulus-funded projects.
The clause has essentially shut Canadian companies out from bidding on municipal infrastructure projects in the U.S., because local U.S. governments are not bound by international trade agreements that Washington must respect in awarding the stimulus contracts.
Of the $787 billion to be spent on economic stimulus in the U.S., up to $280 billion is expected to be awarded at the municipal level.
Harper also dismissed the possibility his minority Conservative government might fall in a potential non-confidence vote being considered by the opposition Liberal party in reaction to the prime minister's recent economic report, in which he suggested Ottawa's own stimulus package was helping steer the Canadian economy out of recession.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he will take the weekend to decide whether to back the government or try to bring it down.
"Nobody wants to see an election right now, just as we are starting to see some of the effects of the recession ease," Harper said.
Harper endorsed Obama's efforts to reboot the U.S. economy with massive deficit spending, saying he had sympathy for the economic predicament the new president inherited upon taking office in January.
"The problem is when the house is on fire, the first thing you have to do is: you have to bring out the hoses and spray water all over it. You can't worry if you are flooding the basement."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Byelection upset condemns policies of Alberta Tories, Liberals

Even though this is primarily a right wing victory it at least shows people can move out of the rut of the Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum old parties. As the article notes there are some on the left dissatisfied too especially with what is happening at Alberta Health.
The Super Board gets super pay and has super power and consolidation has no doubt fanned the fires of local discontent. This will bolster support for the Wild Rose Alliance. Of course maybe I am wrong, maybe it is just some of the old Tory elite jumping ship and punishing the Tories because they do not like Stelmach and bringing the sheep along with them.

Byelection upset condemns policies of Alberta Tories, Liberals

By Don Braid, Calgary HeraldSeptember 15, 2009 6:55 AM

CALGARY - The Liberals wanted Wildrose Alliance candidate Paul Hinman to do well in Calgary-Glenmore --but not this well.
Hinman didn't just shave a few points off the Tory vote, he robbed it blind, winning the byelection and dumping Tory Diane Colley-Urquhart deep into third place.
It was a shocking defeat for the Tories, who counted on Colley-Urquhart's solid name as a city alderman to offset public unease with the government and Premier Ed Stelmach.
Colley-Urquhart kept her distance from the premier throughout the campaign, hoping to impress the voters with her independence.
It didn't work, for her or Stelmach. In fact, it was a fiasco.
Any connection with the premier now looks like trouble in the city. Colley-Urquhart goes back to city council a severely discredited alderman.
The Liberals, after winning a steady 30 per cent of the Glenmore vote over several elections, never imagined any alternative to the Tories but themselves.
But Avalon Roberts--a tough and determined candidate-- couldn't pull it off on her third try.
Like Colley-Urquhart, she fell victim to the first major sign of a right-wing backlash in Alberta.
Byelections rarely portend general trouble for the Tories, but this is the one result that could seriously jolt them.
Hinman's victory
shows the political danger of Stelmach's free-spending policy during the recession.
With the deficit set to hit $6.9 billion, even as the government begins serious cuts, the Tories now face discontent from both the left and right.
Hinman becomes a rarity in Alberta politics, an MLA elected to serve in more than one riding.
He had held Cardston-Taber-Warner before being beaten by the Tories in 2008.
His win strengthens the Alliance enormously just as it's on the verge of picking a new leader.
Stelmach's Tories will be tempted to see the result as just more rabble-rousing from the city that lost its homebody premier when the party dumped Ralph Klein.
That would be a mistake. Hinman ran a smart,
aggressive campaign and hit the public mood bang-on with his slogan; send a message to Ed Stelmach.
And there could be another threat to the premier --from inside his own party.
The Alliance victory increases the chance of a subsantial negative vote in a mandatory leadership review at the party's annual convention in November.
For the Liberals, the loss is a serious slap at party Leader David Swann, who had virtually no impact on a campaign in his own city.
The devastating truth for the Liberals and Tories is that they lost to the only party with no leader at all.
Hinman was surely helped by bad news on fronts like health care. And there's more to come.
Wednesday will bring a major announcement from the Alberta Health Services Board about "re-distribution" of hospital beds.
What this involves, according to sources, is shifts in bed use that will eventually provide more long-term care beds.
In this process, some acute care beds will be lost --a move sure to spark outrage.
The bed shuffling will take place in at least two stages with most benefits coming later, the sources say.
The measures aren't about cost-saving, the sources say. But they're sure to be portrayed that way by the unions.
All this means more discontent with the Tories.
And now, every step they take has to be measured against hostility from both the left and the right.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Monday, September 14, 2009

Layton may support Tory EI plan..

The Liberals might be wise not to vote against the EI proposals either especially when the motion on Friday also contains the popular tax cuts for home renovations. It would be better to defeat the Conservatives on some other issues later in the fall. However, the EI proposals are obviously much less than either the Liberals or NDP would like to see.

Layton signals NDP could support Tory EI plan
Last Updated: Monday, September 14, 2009
CBC News
NDP Leader Jack Layton told reporters the Conservatives' announcement to expand employment insurance benefits to long-tenured workers was a step in the right direction but more action is needed. (CBC)
NDP Leader Jack Layton suggested on Monday that the Conservative proposal to extend employment insurance for long-tenured workers could be enough to garner support from his party and stave off an election.
"The announcement today appears to be a step in the right direction," Layton said in a prepared statement to reporters following question period. "There is much more that needs to be done as well.
"Our preference remains fighting for the unemployed rather than fighting for a second election," he said.
But Layton warned that his party had no intention of giving the government a "blank cheque" and that it will be studying the bill "very, very carefully."
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced Monday that the proposed legislation, which would cost $935 million, would provide from five to 20 weeks of additional benefits, depending on how long an eligible individual has been working and paying into EI.
Finley said the proposed legislation, aimed at workers who have worked seven of the last 10 years, is a temporary measure that will be phased out gradually as the economy improves.
"We believe that this is the right thing to do and that it is both fair and responsible," Finley said. "It would help Canadians who have worked hard and paid EI premiums for many years and who now find themselves in need of a hand up."
The NDP and the Liberals have been pushing for changes to employment insurance amid the economic downturn.
Some analysts have said the package is meant to woo the opposition parties ahead of a confidence vote that could come as early as Friday.
Earlier Monday, Layton suggested he would be open to negotiations with the Harper government but that the ball is in the prime minister's court.
Layton told CBC News on Monday that the NDP needs to see some real action from the government.
Following the EI announcement, New Democrat MP Paul Dewar said the proposal appears to be a "good start" and will be a "serious advancement."
"If they're going to put forward something that's going to help Canadians who are hard hit, we would be irresponsible not to seriously consider and support that," Dewar said.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has indicated that the package is not enough to save Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government from a confidence vote and that his party will vote against the government at the first opportunity.
On Friday, the government plans to bring forward a financial ways-and-means motion. The motion, which includes the popular tax credits for home renovation, is considered a confidence issue, and its defeat could trigger an election campaign.
It is still uncertain which way the Bloc Québécois will vote, but support from the NDP would be all the Tories need to stave off an election. With files from The Canadian Press

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Conservatives to Introduce EI reforms

We will no find out how eager the Conservatives (and the NDP) are to avoid an election. Given that the bipartisan panel of Liberals and Conservatives got nowhere, it seems unlikely that the Conservatives will bring forth any reforms that are very significant although one never knows for sure. Perhaps they will introduce a few minor reforms but not enough to satisfy any of the opposition parties and then will claim that the opposition is obstructionist and preventing measures that will help the unemployed. On the other hand if the Conservatives want to avoid an election they may include a few crumbs to mollify the NDP or Bloc. We will soon see. Iggy seems to have already committed to an election.

Conservatives to introduce EI reforms

CBC News
CBC News has learned the Conservative government plans to introduce a bill next week to make significant changes to employment insurance.
The proposed legislation will have two parts. The first will extend benefits to laid-off workers who have worked for years, according to government sources.
A page arranges the desks of members of Parliament on Thursday as the House of Commons is prepared for the return of MPs. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)Although the exact criteria have not been approved by cabinet, the focus is on workers who have paid EI premiums for many years, but have drawn few benefits.
The second part is to be introduced later in the month, and will fulfil a Conservative campaign promise from 2008 to extend maternity and parental benefits to the self-employed.
In the Conservative platform document for the 2008 election campaign, the cost of extending those EI benefits to the self-employed was estimated at $147 million.
Women are heavily represented among the self-employed and are a constituency the Conservatives covet, but one that has proved difficult for the party to attract.
Sources told the CBC the measures are being introduced to woo the NDP in advance of a possible confidence vote. NDP Leader Jack Layton has signalled his party is prepared to work with the Conservatives if Prime Minister Stephen Harper is prepared to compromise.
The New Democrats have pushed hard for major employment insurance reforms, including lowering the threshold to qualify for EI to 360 hours in a year.
NDP MP Carole Hughes put forward a private member's bill that would have improved benefits for workers aged 45 and older who have 10 years on the job.
Examining proposals
A senior NDP official told CBC News the party would look closely at the Conservative proposals.
"There needs to be substance behind the EI improvements for NDP support," the official said. "The unemployed need real help and they need it now. NDP bills and motions on EI point the way to what needs to be done."
Canadian Press reported earlier Friday that the government is planning to bring forward a financial ways-and-means motion on Friday, Sept. 18. The motion is considered a confidence issue, and its defeat could trigger an election.
However, a spokesman for Government House Leader Jay Hill said a final timetable on when the motion may be introduced has not been set.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ignatieff denies he will form coalition govt.

Harper talks about playing games but he is the master of games although at times he courts disaster as well. Iggy is quite correct that he can always do as the Conservatives have done, count on the support of some opposition parties to avoid an election if he finds himself with a minority government. Assuming Iggy is a bit less confrontational than Harper he could very well survive for some time by giving a few scraps to the NDP or the Bloc or even more likely to the Conservatives--such as some tougher crime bills that are always popular it seems.
Perhaps in the end he could form a coalition. If voters always voted against politicians who broke promises no one would ever get elected.

Ignatieff insists he won't join forces with Bloc, NDP if Liberals win minority in next vote
September 12, 2009
OTTAWA–In a bid to counter Tory attacks, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has declared he would not form a coalition with other opposition parties if he forms a minority government in the next election.
And Canadians may find themselves going to the polls sooner rather than later. A Commons vote that could bring down the minority Conservative government has been tentatively scheduled for next Friday, sources tell The Canadian Press. The so-called ways and means motion signals an upcoming vote on a budget matter, but is considered a vote of confidence.
The Liberals have said they will not continue to support the Conservative government.
"Let me be very clear – the Liberal party would not agree to a coalition. In January we did not support a coalition and we do not support a coalition today or tomorrow," Ignatieff said yesterday.
Ignatieff said Prime Minister Stephen Harper is once again warning – in private speeches and in television ads – that the Liberals are out to form another coalition with "the separatists and the socialists" to scare people into giving him a majority government.
Ignatieff said he would work more cooperatively with the opposition parties than Harper has during his time as prime minister. But the Liberal leader could not explain how he would provide political stability in any Liberal minority situation without a formal coalition.
Instead, he said, there are "many other models" of how to run a minority government with the cooperation or support of other opposition parties without entering a formal coalition. He pointed to the Liberal minority governments of Pierre Trudeau and Lester B. Pearson as "among the most productive in the history of our country."
Ignatieff signed a letter of support for last year's coalition when Stéphane Dion was leader, but yesterday he said he should be judged on his actions once he became leader.
When Ignatieff first took over from Dion in December, he said his position was "a coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition." In January, he killed it in deciding to support the government's budget. He says now a coalition was not "in the national interest."
"I could be standing here as the prime minister of Canada," Ignatieff said yesterday. "I turned it down ... . I don't think I need to give further proof of my feeling that that's not what Canadians want. I agree with Canadians."
However, when asked whether he excluded a coalition with the opposition parties if the result of an election were another Conservative minority, Ignatieff called it a hypothetical question he didn't "like."
In French, he said he would seek to form a "good Liberal government, a government of the centre that looks for honourable compromises, that looks to inspire Canadians and to unite them."
The Conservatives continue to insist that means Ignatieff is scheming to strike a coalition with the NDP or Bloc Québécois.
A senior government official, speaking on background, said Ignatieff didn't answer the "straight-up question," which was based on polls that suggest a Harper minority would be the likely outcome of any vote. "He sidestepped it, he dodged it."
Last fall, the Conservatives successfully propelled a wave of popular anger against the Liberals who, under Dion, signed a coalition agreement with the NDP. The Bloc Québécois promised its vote-by-vote support, but was not a formal partner.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harper parries "hidden agenda" attack

The Tories are frustrated by the fact that the Liberals have finally decided not to bellow loud but then roll over softly as Harper rams his legislation through. Whether the call for a majority will work is doubtful. I cannot understand why Canadians just don't vote for other parties. Vote for Christian Heritage or a Libertarian if you are on the right vote NDP or Green or Communist if you are on the left. The two main parties are just Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum representatives of the most powerful interests and the differences between the two are marginal. One good sign is that neither leader Harper nor Ignatieff are popular among Canadians. This shows that Canadians have still some good sense left!
Harper is going to play the coalition boogey man game. Ignatieff has already rejected the idea of a coalition but that is just plain stupid. Politicians should always keep options open not close them down. By acting on suggestions such as that of Norman Spector, a former Mulroney operative Iggy would be simply cutting off sensible strategies to parry a Conservative attack of doubtful power.

PM parries 'hidden agenda' attack

Campbell Clark
Ottawa — The Globe and Mail
Last updated on Thursday, Sep. 10, 2009 12:42PM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicates in a leaked video that he is preparing to mount a fall election campaign calling for a Tory majority, turning the tables on the “hidden agenda” attacks that long haunted him by charging the Liberals harbour a secret plan to seize power with the backing of “socialists and separatists.”
In a grainy cell-phone video provided to the CBC by the Liberals, Mr. Harper can be seen last week practicing his election campaign themes for Conservative insiders in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., at an event that was closed to reporters. The video is not the Prime Minister with his guard down, but is instead a partisan address that provides a preview of his stump speech.
Mr. Harper, who as opposition leader struggled to shake off Liberal allegations he harboured a secret far-right political agenda, is brewing up his own allegations that Michael Ignatieff has a hidden agenda: to revive the short-lived coalition with the NDP, backed by Bloc Québécois votes in the Commons, that former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion mounted December.
“Most of all friends, I want to tell you this, and I want to tell you this frankly: It will be a choice between having a Conservative government or not having a Conservative government. And let me be clear about this: we need to win a majority in the next election campaign,” Mr. Harper said in the speech.
“I am not just saying that because we need a few more seats: you saw what happened last year. Do not be fooled for a moment. If we do not get a majority, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois will combine and they will form a government. They will deny this till they are blue in the face in an election campaign, but I guarantee it, if we do not win a majority, this country will have a Liberal government propped up by the socialists and the separatists.”
Mr. Harper has avoided direct calls for a majority since the 2004 election campaign he narrowly lost – because many Tories believed the prospect of a too-right government scared some centre and left voters back to the Liberal camp.
Mr. Harper's attempt to pin hidden hopes of leading a coalition on Mr. Ignatieff also provide the Conservative with a “wedge” that splits them from all the other parties.
But it's not clear if it will stick : the coalition was short-lived and is largely forgotten, and Mr. Ignatieff only reluctantly backed Mr. Dion's scheme, and killed the coalition once he became leader.
In his speech, Mr. Harper warns that a Liberal government propped up by the NDP and Bloc might now last long, but would do “long-term” damage to the country, favouring soft on crime policies, appointing left-wing judges, and expanding spending permanently.
Mr. Harper makes clear that it is not just coalitions he will campaign against, but that he will charge that the Liberals will raise taxes as the recession ends, while the Tories won't. The huge deficits generated by recession-era stimulus packages means either future cuts to government spending or future hikes in taxes, and Mr. Harper will promise to protect Canadians' pocketbooks.
“They have said, and I know Mr. Ignatieff is trying to change his tune today, they have said repeatedly they would raise taxes to pay for that spending, to pay for their permanent spending.”
“And that, friends, is one of the biggest single reasons this government needs to be elected: so when the recession is over, we can keep taxes going down in this country.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Poll: Ignatieff hurt by election mongering.

Ignatieff has certainly not done anything that would improve his popularity. No doubt forcing an election might lead to some unpopularity. It would have been better if he had waited until the Conservatives did something to force him to stand up to them. If he had passed Conservative legislation that the Liberals ordinarily would not agree to he might have lost popularity as well. Dion certainly did not help his popularity by making sure government worked--aka letting Conservative legislation pass. Since both leaders are not popular perhaps the NDP and Green Party and smaller parties may do better. Let us hope so. The sooner people see through the old line parties the better. Although it would seem that Ignatieff must be determined to have an election if he can it remains to be seen if he will keep on course. Perhaps he hopes that the Bloc or NDP will save him by voting with the Conservatives but so far that seems unlikely. The NDP would be open to voting with the Conservatives but not without gaining something in return but the Conservatives do not seem willing to offer anything. Similarly if Harper gave something to Quebec the Bloc might support him but again nothing is forthcoming it would seem.

Ignatieff hurt by election-mongering: poll
OTTAWA — A new poll suggests Canadians think Michael Ignatieff is wrong to try to force an election this fall and the Liberal leader's popularity has nosedived as a result.
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey also suggests Liberal fortunes have dipped, with the Conservatives taking a slight lead nationally - 34 per cent to 31.
The NDP was at 15 per cent, the Greens at 10, and the Bloc Quebecois at eight.
According to the poll, respondents with a negative impression of Ignatieff jumped 15 points from March, to 41 per cent.
Thirty-nine per cent had a favourable impression, down six points.
Stephen Harper isn't doing much better - impressions of the prime minister remained virtually unchanged with 44 per cent having a favourable opinion and 45 per cent having an unfavourable opinion.
The poll of just over 2,000 Canadians was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 6 and is considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points 19 times in 20.
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Alberta Labour Federation: Alberta gets a raw deal on EI benefits.

Alberta is being punished for being a boom province. Only 15 per cent of young Albertan workers qualify for EI when they lose their jobs and Alberta has the lowest percentage of its unemployment workers receiving benefits of all provinces. Meanwhile the Liberals and Conservatives have an EI panel that is going nowhere because the two parties do not see eye to eye on reform. Harper however managed to avoid an election by setting it up. Now he will squawk loudly about this being a bad time to have an election and that Canadians do not want an election but he will be forced into it by those evil Liberals et al. Don't expect masses of Albertans to turn against Harper however!

Alberta labour federation says the province gets a raw deal on E-I benefits
By Jim Macdonald (CP) – 14 hours ago
EDMONTON — The Alberta Federation of Labour has released an analysis that supports its push to shorten waiting times for federal Employment Insurance benefits in Alberta.
The labour group says Albertans are being short-changed because they have to work more hours to qualify for benefits compared to workers in other provinces.
"The ranks of the unemployed in Alberta swell each month as layoffs continue," AFL President Gil McGowan said Sunday. "But the safety net we pay into is failing to stop their fall."
The labour group's analysis found that the number of unemployed in Alberta has doubled since October of last year to almost 154,000. The report also found that only 15 per cent of young Alberta workers are eligible of employment insurance when they lose their job.
The analysis calls for drastic changes to the employment insurance program, including a standard 360-hour eligibility period, elimination of the two-week waiting period and extending the benefit period to two years.
"Laid-off workers are getting hit hard by the recession," said McGowan. "It is the responsibility of the government to make sure they can continue to pay the rent and feed their families."
The report found most of the lost jobs have been full-time positions, while the number of people being forced to take part-time work in Alberta has increased significantly since last fall.
The analysis also found Alberta with the lowest percentage of jobless workers receiving unemployment benefits at 39 per cent, compared to 55 percentage of Quebec's jobless getting E-I benefits.
"But even workers who are lucky to get EI benefits find it simply isn't enough," said Tom Olenuk, President of the Edmonton and District Labour Council. "Rates are too low and for too many, their benefits get cut off too quickly."
The AFL said the federal government uses a complicated formula to set E-I criteria in each region.
In Alberta, the rules reflect the boom times that the province had been experiencing up to about a year ago - not the spike in employment that occurred after markets crashed last fall and energy prices began to plummet.
"The government's arbitrary rate setting did not take into account Alberta's resource-driven economy," says the nine-page report.
Alberta's labour federation is also calling for increased funding for training programs for the jobless.
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Those Liberal ads!

Oh my goodness gracious the Liberal leader is promoting himself on TV. Where will all this Liberal wickedness end. Iggy even seems to be trying to make himself warm and human like Harper without the blue sweater. We even have echoes of the Green Shift with the attractive forest glade setting in the background of one ad. Perhaps a view of an oil Sands development would be more appropriate and attract a few Albertan votes!

Tories accuse Ignatieff of promoting self on TV

September 07, 2009 Susan DelacourtOttawa Bureau

OTTAWA–An election may be weeks, even months away, but the Liberals' campaign enters the warm-up phase on the airwaves today, with a $2 million series of TV ads intended to showcase leader Michael Ignatieff to Canadians.
Three of the ads were unveiled yesterday on Facebook and YouTube, and Conservatives immediately retaliated with accusations that Ignatieff is trying to make the next election all about him.
The one English-language ad revealed yesterday, titled "Worldview," is in part a reply to the Conservatives' own ad campaign of earlier this year, which attempted to discredit Ignatieff for his lengthy career abroad in Britain and the United States.
Clad in a blue shirt, speaking in a forest glade, Ignatieff casts himself as a man of the world, with sights set beyond the country's borders.
"Wherever I've worked, I've met Canadians who were the best the world has to offer," he says. "We need a new way of thinking; a government that thinks big, that has a global perspective, invests in Canadians, gets their ideas to market, reaching out to India and China to build the economy of tomorrow. I know Canadians can take on the world and win."
This escalation of campaign manoeuvring by the Liberals follows Ignatieff's declaration last week that the party would look for the first available opportunity to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government and would no longer help keep Conservatives in power.
That leaves Harper in need of the New Democrats or Bloc Québécois for support in the Commons this fall – a prospect that looked unlikely last week. If Harper can't find one political party to work with him in Parliament, the government could fall soon after the Commons returns to work next week.
Canadians would be heading back to the polls just one year after last fall's election, which Harper provoked because he said Parliament was unworkable.
In effect, the Liberals have launched a two-pronged strategy with last week's declaration. One is a communications effort, intended to fight Conservatives but also, equally importantly, to rouse spirits and pull the Liberals off the defensive, where they have been languishing for more than three years.
One of the Liberals' largest problems in last year's campaign, for instance, was the 800,000-plus Liberal voters who stayed away from the polls altogether.
The other part of the strategy is tactical, aimed at either defeating the government or getting the NDP or Bloc to bear the blame for keeping Conservatives in power when Parliament resumes next week.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called the Liberal ad campaign merely an attempt to "rehabilitate" Ignatieff's reputation, but said Canadians wouldn't fall for the "ruse."
"Michael Ignatieff is trying to recast himself as a man of the people, a leader who can be entrusted with the Canadian economy. He is hoping Canadians will forget his record. He's hoping Canadians won't notice that he's putting Canada's economic recovery at risk by forcing an unnecessary election," Kenney said in a statement released yesterday. "He has put his own agenda ahead of Canada's best interests by trying to force a second election in one year, before Canada's economy fully recovers."
Conservatives were hauling out old quotes from Ignatieff's days at Harvard too, questioning his attachment to his country and commitment to the job he's seeking.
The Liberals' national director, Rocco Rossi, says the party is urging Canadians to compare campaigning styles – negative versus the "positive" tone this week's wave of Liberal ads is trying to strike.
"The biggest message is the contrast really. We want Canadians to know what Liberals already know – this is a different kind of politician; a world-class guy with a world-class mind, caring and compassionate, who wants to have a debate on the issues and the competing values and vision," Rossi said.
The Liberals' French-language ads are more pointed in their mention of Harper – his record on the deficit, recession and environment – and feature Ignatieff against a stark, black background. And while the English ads have the slogan "we can do better," the French ads say voters "deserve" better.
Rossi didn't want to go into detail about the distinction, only saying the concepts have been tested at length this summer and these were the styles deliberately chosen by Liberal officials. Rossi said only three ads were launched yesterday because Liberals are hoping a slower release will give them more media attention. More ads will be unveiled within days, he said.

Layton wants concrete action on NDP policies as price of support for Harper

The rhetorical bleatings coming from the NDP sound as if it is the NDP that would just love the Conservatives to throw them a lifeline to avoid an election. However, it seems destined not to be. Although supporting Conservatives might possibly bleed off some NDP support and open them up to Liberal attacks, probably the Conservatives simply refuse to budge because they do not see it as in their own interests. The Conservative refrain will be that Canadians want parliament to work and that the opposition will simply not co-operate. Canadians do not want an election but the big bad opposition forced it upon them with all sorts of negative consequences. This prattle is not likely to generate a majority government. The Conservatives want the parliament to work but only upon their terms and the opposition can cave in or face an election. This time it seems we will be facing an election.
The Liberals have already unveiled their great policy slogan: We Can Do Better. Perhaps the Conservatives can do better than that----in creating a slogan of course. Be Happy Vote for Harper.

Layton wants 'concrete' action on NDP policies
PM to blame if election called, says NDP leader
By DAVID JACKSON Provincial Reporter Thu. Sep 3 - 6:52 PM
Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton offered the Harper government a lifeline Thursday and said it would be the prime minister’s fault if there’s an election this fall.
But a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed the NDP overture, setting the stage for Canadians to possibly head back to the polls a year after the last federal vote.
Mr. Layton said in Halifax that he wants to see action on NDP policies that were before the House of Commons in the spring, measures to help the unemployed, seniors, and consumers and small businesses gouged by credit card companies.
But the federal leader wasn’t specific on what he meant by action, other than that it must be “concrete.”
“I’m not making any backroom deals with the prime minister,” Mr. Layton said during a news conference at a downtown hotel.
“I’m simply suggesting that it’s time for him to show some leadership, to reach out, and make Parliament work.”
The Harper government is again teetering on the brink of defeat after Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff declared this week his party will no longer keep the Conservatives alive.
Mr. Layton had taken delight in mocking the Liberals for propping up the government during spring confidence votes but talked Thursday about doing the same thing.
He said he wouldn’t see it as “propping up” the Conservatives.
“It’s a question of trying to get results for people. There’s nothing strange or behind the scenes involved here. It’s simply suggesting that the decision about whether there’s an election is the prime minister’s decision.”
Mr. Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, suggested Mr. Layton wasn’t sincere in his offer to work with the government.
“Mr. Layton is very interested, and it’s clear to everybody, that he prefers working with Michael Ignatieff and the Bloc Quebecois rather than working in the interests of Canadians,” he said.
Mr. Harper, who spoke to reporters in Ontario prior to Mr. Layton’s appearance in Halifax, said he wasn’t interested in backroom deals. Mr. Harper said he is interested in useful, affordable ideas to help the economy.
He has said an election would interrupt the country’s economic recovery.
The minority Conservatives must look to the NDP or Bloc Quebecois to survive. Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe has said he’ll consider backing the government on a case-by-case basis.
The NDP, in debt and trailing in the polls, is believed by political insiders to be desperate to avoid an election this fall, but the Tory response to Mr. Layton’s overture Thursday suggests Canadians are likely to head to the polls before long.
Speaking after Mr. Layton’s news conference, Liberal MP Bob Rae said politics is a contact sport, like hockey, not ballet.
Mr. Rae accused the Tories of floating “bizarre” ideas and pooh-poohed the claim that an election would create instability, noting that elections are a normal part of democracy.
“There’s an effort here on the part of the Conservatives to create an atmosphere of total instability,” he said.
“Well, you know, we’re not a banana republic. We have votes. Mr. Harper’s not a generalissimo yet. He has to get used to living in a constitutional democracy.”
Mr. Rae said there is no reason an election need disrupt Mr. Harper’s plans to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Sept. 16 or to attend the G20 economic summit in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24.
The latest polls suggest an election now would result in another minority government — either for the Tories or the Liberals.
The surveys put the two parties in a dead heat, with the Liberals well ahead of the Tories in vote-rich Ontario and Quebec.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

MacKay violates Conflict of Interest Act

Obviously a minister with such an imperfect memory is not to be trusted as defence minister. Imagine you were a board member of two companies and forgot that fact. Surely you would get regular letters notifying you of board meetings among other things.
The Chronicle Herald may have phrased their headline incorrectly but MacKay is at minimum guilty of violating the Conflict of Interest Act whether he is guilty of actual conflict of interest or not.

MacKay denies conflict of interest But defence minister admits he violated Conflict of Interest Act.
By STEPHEN MAHER Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA — Peter MacKay denied Thursday that he was in a conflict of interest when he was a director of two family forestry companies while serving as a federal cabinet minister.
The defence minister and Central Nova MP acknowledged being in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act, which forbids ministers from serving on the boards of private companies, but he said that doesn’t necessarily mean he was in a conflict.
“As I have acknowledged, earlier this week I discovered I was not in compliance with section 15 of the act and took immediate steps to rectify the situation,” Mr. MacKay wrote in a letter emailed to The Chronicle Herald on Thursday. “A lack of compliance with section 15 does not, in itself, constitute a conflict of interest.”
Mr. MacKay objected to the headline on the front-page story: MacKay in Conflict of Interest.
“This headline is misleading, as it is simply not supported by the story you have published,” Mr. MacKay wrote. “Nothing in the story you have published establishes the existence of a conflict of interest.”
The Chronicle Herald learned this week that Mr. MacKay served as a director of Beaver Lumber and Lorne Resources, two companies owned by his father, former federal cabinet minister Elmer MacKay.
Through those two companies and private holdings, Elmer MacKay owns more than 8,000 hectares of Nova Scotia forest, mostly in Pictou County.
Peter MacKay resigned from the boards of both companies on Wednesday after he learned that he was in violation of the act. He said he had forgotten that he was an officer of either company as he had never received any compensation or owned any part of the businesses.
The Conflict of Interest Act for federal ministers forbids them from serving as directors or officers of corporations and from managing or operating businesses.
The violation came to light when The Chronicle Herald asked the office of Mary Dawson, the conflict of interest commissioner, about the situation. Her office called Mr. MacKay’s office and he immediately moved to withdraw from the companies.
Ms. Dawson “is looking into” Mr. MacKay’s violation, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
If Ms. Dawson launches an investigation, and if she finds that Mr. MacKay violated the act, she would file a report with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She could also impose a monetary fine.
The story about Mr. MacKay’s violation of the act has received coverage from national media outlets, giving Mr. MacKay and the Tories a headache on a day when they didn’t need any bad news as political parties joust over the possibility of a fall election.
Liberal deputy leader Bob Rae declined to take any shots at Mr. MacKay when a CBC Radio reporter asked about the story on Thursday.
“That’s a matter for the conflict commissioner,” Mr. Rae said. “It’s not a matter for us. We have a process in the House for that. We take ministers at their word. We’re not going to make personal attacks on people.”
The Chronicle Herald looked into Mr. MacKay’s connection with the family businesses after he announced $7 million in federal funding last month for Nova Scotia woodlot owners.
Mr. MacKay said he had nothing to do with the decision to make the federal grant and nothing to do with the management of the family companies.
This summer, Mr. MacKay, his father and his brother Andrew received an award for sustainable forestry from a conservation group that said Andrew and Peter “assist their father in managing the family woodlands.”
Mr. MacKay said Wednesday he had no role in running the companies.
“My mistake, if anything, was not to have twigged to the fact that I should remove my name,” he said. “I guess it sounds hard to believe but I completely forgot because I didn’t have any involvement with it.”
Halifax MP Megan Leslie said she finds it tough to understand Mr. MacKay’s oversight because MPs and cabinet ministers have to go through a rigorous disclosure process.
“It must be quite the life to forget that you’re the director of certain companies,” the New Democrat said. “I forget how many student loans I have, but we have different lives, Peter and I.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Greyhound Bus Service in Manitoba, NW Ont. to end.

Much as I dislike John Baird in this case he hits the nail on the head. Greyhound is attempting to bully Manitoba and Ontario into providing subsidies and/or allowing them to drop services to smaller communities. In the articles I have seen it sounds as if Greyhound is going to stop all service in Manitoba and NW Ontario but this makes little sense. Greyhound just opened a new terminal in Winnipeg. Presumably Greyhound would still serve Winnipeg and probably Brandon and Kenora at the least. There are many smaller towns that buses travelling on the Trans-Canada west and east that it would be simple enough for Greyhound to serve in some manner. Even in smaller places considerable freight goes by bus. Greyhound just wants the highest volume stops and will demand subsidies to do anything more. This is an obvious area for the government to jump in and serve the people. Perhaps it might boost NDP fortunes in some parts of rural Manitoba. They certainly need boosting!
If the NDP were any sort of leftist party they would immediately start a Manitoba Transportation Company as Saskatchewan did and ensure service to smaller communities. But don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. While reactionary regimes such as Saudi Arabia earn billions from oil revenues Canada has no state oil company. Canadian provinces compete with each other to see who can give the best deal to global oil companies so that most profits go to private corporations not the public purse. The NDP policy is no exception. The Sask. NDP had lower royalties than Conservative Alberta--but this did not save them from defeat at the polls! Note that as of now Greyhound is owned by Laidlaw headquartered in Texas. They could care less if small towns in Manitoba and Northwest Ontario have any adequate bus service.

Greyhound bus service in Man., NW Ont. to end News Staff
Greyhound Canada has served notice that it's ceasing operations in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, saying it's in a "dire" financial situation due to government regulations that force it to serve remote communities.
The bus company is also re-examining its routes in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Greyhound is giving 30 days' notice to the Manitoba Highway Traffic Board to ensure that passenger tickets sold to date in that province can be honoured.
In Ontario, Greyhound is giving 90 days' notice to the Ontario Highway Transport Board. Greyhound service in northwestern Ontario will stop as of Dec. 2.
"The decision to cease our operations in Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba was a very difficult one. We have repeatedly asked the federal and provincial governments to change the existing legislative and regulatory regimes that govern inter-city bus operations," said Stuart Kendrick, senior vice president of Greyhound Canada, in a news release.
"Our financial situation is dire and we are no longer in a position to absorb losses that are almost solely attributable to government policies."
Greyhound added, however, that it will continue to work with the federal and provincial governments over the next 30 to 90 days to try to work on a solution to maintain its service to rural passengers.
Reacting to the news, Federal Transport Minister John Baird accused Greyhound of trying to bully the provinces -- and that the company is being "heavy handed" in an effort to wrestle subsidies from provincial governments.
"What this is, really, is a multi-national company attempting to shake down tax payers," Baird told CTV News Channel from Ottawa on Thursday.
However, Kendrick said the company is simply asking the government to take "leadership role" to insure Canadians aren't left stranded.
He added that Greyhound is asking for a "short-term operating subsidy grant" of between $15 million and $20 million to ensure service can continue.
"We don't want to exit Canada, we don't want to exit any of the routes we're on now," Kendrick said.
However, he noted that the routes just aren't profitable meaning the country's transportation structure could be "fractured."
Greyhound, whose U.S. parent is based in Texas, is the largest provider of intercity bus transportation in Canada. The company says it serves nearly 700 communities and offers 1,000 daily departures across the country. It also operates in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tories Gear Up for Battle..

I find it rather surprising that both the Liberals and the Tories seem to be taking such strong stands that it leaves them little room to back down. Only the NDP and the Bloc are leaving their options open. If Harper is unwilling to accomodate either the NDP or the Bloc as seems to be the case it would seem we are election bound. However we will still need to wait and see. Politicians have been known to reverse themselves even in situations such as this. Unless things change it is not clear who will get a minority government let alone a majority. Iggy might even have to go with a dreaded coalition!

Tories gear up for political battle

Harper government says there's no chance for a deal with the NDP
•Ottawa — From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Last updated on Thursday, Sep. 03, 2009 09:18AM EDT

The minority Harper government is arming for political battle this fall rather than seeking peace, dismissing the chances of a deal with the NDP to avoid an election and warning its defeat would jeopardize a popular home-renovation tax credit.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has shaken up Canada's political calendar this week by announcing he will now seek to defeat the 10 1/2-month-old Harper government at the first opportunity – a move that could send the country to the polls in October or November.

The New Democrats have offered a lifeline to the Tories, however, saying they're willing to consider propping up the Conservatives if the government adopts some NDP policies. Jack Layton's party has not released a wish list but has said its priorities include regulating credit-card interest rates.

But Wednesday, senior Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney appeared to rule out a deal with the NDP. He told a Calgary radio station that he cannot envision Mr. Layton and the Tories finding sufficient common ground to reach an agreement that would see the New Democrats prop up the Conservative government. The Prime Minister himself later echoed that sentiment.

“Look. We've always tried to demonstrate willingness to co-operate with the opposition parties. We did in the last budget. But we're not for sale to the highest bidder, least of all the NDP,” Mr. Kenney told Calgary radio-show host Dave Rutherford.

“It's a party of hard-core left-wing ideologues ... It's not like a moderate, centre-left party. These folks, they drink their own Kool-Aid right? So I don't think we can see a realistic arrangement with the NDP.”

Even as they eschewed co-operation with the NDP, the Tories were privately spreading the word through the media that they hope to try to engineer events so that the Liberals defeat them by voting against a $1.3-billion home-renovation tax credit this fall.

Such a move would sow confusion about the future of the tax credit – even though the Liberals have vowed to reintroduce it should they form government – and bolster the Tory campaign theme that an election brings uncertainty.

The plan would unfold like this: The Conservatives are planning to introduce a ways and means motion after the House of Commons resumes in mid-September that paves the way for the second budget implementation bill stemming from the January 27 budget. This will contain everything not passed in the first budget bill, including the home-renovation tax credit, a measure the Tories held back from passage earlier this year.

A vote on the budget ways and means motion will be a confidence vote – the defeat of which can topple the government – and the Tories will attempt to force the Liberals to either blink or strike down a motion that gives effect to the tax credit.

The Canada Revenue Agency Wednesday declined to say how this would affect the tax credit but Conservatives plan to argue this would jeopardize the home-renovation measure, which rebates Canadians up to $1,350 for upgrades undertaken. “If that is defeated, then Canada Revenue Agency can no longer administer it,” one senior Tory said.

The Liberals protest that this ploy is dishonest because even if they defeat the Tories on the budget motion they would reintroduce the measure and pass it should they win power.

“This is just a Conservative game,” Liberal finance critic John McCallum said. “We are 100 per cent committed to the home-renovation tax credit and will ensure the appropriate legislation is there so people get their tax credit.”

Toronto Dominion Bank chief economist Don Drummond, a former federal Finance Department official, said an election would create some “uncomfortable” uncertainty regarding the program. However, he says as long as the measure is ultimately approved by Parliament before the 2010 tax filing season, the credit would not be affected.

“If I was the Commissioner [of the Canada Revenue Agency], I would just stay cool and leave it in limbo,” Mr. Drummond said. “People won't be filing until February, March and April of 2010 anyhow. So I'd probably just say ‘Hey, I'm waiting to see what happens before the end of the year.' ”

Speaking to reporters in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged opposition parties to support the home-renovation tax credit when it comes up for a vote this fall in the Commons.

“I think we're all a little bit surprised by some of these developments after support being given to the budget, support is now being withdrawn halfway through the budget year and there are still budget measures to be passed,” he said. “This government remains committed to that tax credit.”

Mr. Harper said he's also not holding out much hope for a deal with the NDP – one that could keep his party in office and forestall the fourth federal election in sixth years.

The Prime Minister noted that the NDP has regularly voted against measures even when they addressed New Democrat priorities such as skills training.

“The NDP has been very proud of the fact, and Mr. Layton says it over and over again that in four years he has never once supported the government on anything important,” the Prime Minister said.

“So you know, that's their position. If it changes, you know, if people want to work together on this that will help the economy, we're willing to do that, but we have no indication of that from Mr. Layton.”

Separately, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe said he won't shy away from triggering an election this fall but was non-committal on whether he would help the Liberals bring down the Conservatives

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ignatieff to pull the plug?

Ignatieff seems to have trouble making up his mind. Not too long ago he was trying to dampen election speculation. Perhaps he feels completely double-crossed in his agreement with the Conservatives to set up a bipartisan panel to deal with EI reform. It would seem that the Conservatives were not ready to give much if anything to the Liberals. Harper is up to his old chicken game--in the interests of all Canadians of course who don't want an election! It remains to be seen if Ignatieff sticks to his new story but it would seem as if he is serious as new ads are being trotted out and a great new policy leap forward: We Can Do Better. That is real grist for any intellect's mill. Harvard will be proud.It will be interesting to see if Layton and the BQ are willing to join forces with Ignatieff to defeat Harper. Probably they will but one never knows for sure.
‘We can do better,' Liberals declare
Jane Taber Senior Political Writer. (Globe and Mail)
Michael Ignatieff framed his ballot question today, saying Canadians will be asked to vote for who is best placed to lead the country into the “economy of tomorrow.”The Liberal Leader said he was not being irresponsible in pledging to defeat the Harper minority government, arguing that he is doing so because, “in my heart of hearts I believe that we can offer Canadians a more compassionate and competent government.”Mr. Ignatieff announced Tuesday his party will no longer prop up the Conservatives, making a fall general election highly probable.After a morning caucus meeting, Liberals flew out of their Sudbury hotel Wednesday, ending a three-day retreat in this Northern Ontario city. They headed off to prepare for the return of Parliament on Sept. 14 and a likely confidence vote at the end of the month or in early October.But there were signs the election campaign has already begun – new Liberal television ads were unveiled to caucus, featuring the slogan, “We can do better.”Mr. Ignatieff also postponed his trip to China, which he had bragged about only a day earlier. “Stephen Harper has been prime minister for four years, and he's never visited China. We'll be there next week,” he said Tuesday.Today, he opted to stay in the country to see how the “political situation develops.”“Mr. Harper has some cards to play; Mr. Duceppe has some cards to play; Mr. Layton has some cards to play and it seems needs to be responsible for me to be here while those issues are clarified,” he told reporters in his closing press conference.He stressed, however that he is done negotiating with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “We did that in June,” he said, referring to a deal that kept Mr. Harper's minority government in office in return for an opposition day in late September or early October and a bipartisan working group on employment insurance reform.That panel met three times over the summer with little success. According to a Liberal source, it has since been disbanded and there are no more meetings.During the closing press conference, Mr. Ignatieff began to outline a narrative for an election campaign that his critics decry as unnecessary. He appears to be focusing on the economy, an issue that his party pollster, Michael Marzolini, identified as the issue Canadians are most concerned about.“What I have been saying is, this isn't just a recession. We can't go back to the economy we used to know,” he told reporters. “Some of the jobs we've lost are not coming back and Canadians know that and they know that they need a federal government that says, ‘Okay, where do we have to go to create the jobs of tomorrow?'“One of the key things that I am saying in Sudbury is, I don't want a Canada in which all the hope and opportunity has gone to Montreal and Toronto and Halifax and Vancouver. I want hope and opportunity here, in Sudbury.”In concluding remarks to caucus, meanwhile, the Liberal Leader spoke extemporaneously, telling members that there is a sense of freedom now as they can vote freely against the Harper Tories.MPs and Senators also saw the new Liberal television ads, which will be released this weekend. The English versions are meant to introduce Mr. Ignatieff to Canadians, countering attacks from the Conservatives that he is a virtual newcomer to the country, having come back from decades abroad because he was lusting for power.With a forest-like outdoor backdrop, Mr. Ignatieff explains to Canadians why he should be prime minister and attacks the deficiencies of the Harper government.The French version, which was shot in a studio, hits harder at the Conservatives, according to insiders. The Liberals are polling ahead of the Tories in Quebec and believe they can make gains in the province.The ads were described by one Liberal as “inspirational.” Another said they were “positve” and “upbeat.”Party president Alf Apps, meanwhile, said online donations “quadrupled” over the daily average in response to Mr. Ignatieff's speech in which he told Stephen Harper “your time is up.”While Mr. Apps won't say exactly how much was raised, he sent out an e-mail message early this morning under the subject line: “A Good Sign.”A huge fundraising dinner, featuring former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien, is planned for Vaughan, Ont., on Oct. 1. It could provide the centrepiece kick-off event for the election campaign, if the government is defeated then.Mr. Apps has said that they hope to raise $1.6-million at the dinner that Mr. Ignatieff will also attend. It is for the “non-Bay Street GTA” Liberals and others.As well, the party is planning another fundraising dinner with Paul Martin in British Columbia, some time later in the fall.Mr. Apps also briefed MPs and Senators on the state of the party's finances, which have improved dramatically since Mr. Ignatieff took over as leader last December.He said the party plans to run a fully-costed campaign, spending the maximum limit of $24-million. This compares to the $19-million limit for last year's election, in which the Liberals under the leadership of Stéphane Dion, who was considered weak and not a fundraising draw, were only able to manage to run a $14-million campaign.