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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Opposition wants to reduce the deficit by increasing spending

The opposition parties continued to hound the government on Tuesday over proposed changes to Canada's Employment Insurance (EI) program.

The opposition would like to lower the number of hours people need to work in order to be eligible for EI. They would also like to standardize the eligibility requirements across the country, instead of the current system, which varies depending on the unemployment rate of the region in question. The issue has become so heated, that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has threatened to force an election over the matter.

As though this doesn't seem silly enough, the Liberals launched a coordinated attack against the government Tuesday in question period, which saw the party simultaneously calling for increased spending and deficit reduction. Here are two back to back questions from Michael Ignatieff and John McCallum:

In other words: You remember how we blackmailed you into the largest deficit in Canadian history by getting into bed with socialists and separatists and threatening a coup d'état? And remember how not two minutes ago our glorious leader told you to spend more money? How could you run the biggest deficit in Canadian history?

Oh snap! I, for one, can't wait until these guys get into power. But the shenanigans did not stop there. NDP Leader Jack Layton called on the government to bring in a second stimulus package. Now there's a great idea, spend more money we don't have at a time when the economy appears to be stabilizing. Here's another idea: how about Jack Layton takes out a line of credit and uses it to give money to charity? If it's a good idea for the government, shouldn't it be a good idea for private households as well?

Now it's generally accepted that the job of the opposition parties is to oppose everything the government does, but they're usually not so blatantly contradictory. Luckily, the prime minister called them on it:

This episode has fuelled speculation over whether or not we will see a summer election. This is, however, highly unlikely. The bigger question is: who will fold first? Will it be the honourable leader of the opposition, who systematically abandons everything he stands for? Or will it be our fiscal conservative turned socialist prime minister?

Considering that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is warning that the deficit is likely to be larger than expected and that increasing EI benefits would put the country in a worse financial situation than it already is, I sincerely hope the prime minister has the cojones to stand up to the opposition this time around.

Posted by Jesse Kline on May 26, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


Any person who seriously suggests that a government run by a majority of duly elected members of Parliament can be called a "coup d'état" is too stupid to pay any attention to. The coalition might have been a bad idea (and it was), but the idea that it would have been a coup d'état is idiotic.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-05-27 5:34:39 AM

Cut the crap, Fact Check. The fact of the matter is that Canadians would have been stuck with a Prime Minister they soundly rejected less than a month previously. Furthermore, the official coalition did not by itself have the votes to govern, so they formed a non-binding "understanding" with a third party that would have handed effective veto power to one province over all the other nine.

Not everyone who disagrees with you is a moron. In fact, I've noticed that almost everyone disagrees with you on a broad range of topics. Congratulations, you've served as gadfly on the wall, devil's advocate for yet another post. Now go crawl back under Barbara Hall's desk.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-05-27 6:58:35 AM

Shane -

The fact that a majority of Canadians had recently rejected the idea of Stephane Dion as Prime Minister doesn't mean it would have been illegal for him to assume the position.

The majority of Canadians rejected Harper as Prime Minister. Sure, larger majorities rejected Dion, Layton and Duceppe individually, but they did not reject them if they pool their votes together, which is allowed under our system.

Fact Check, though he can be abrasive, is right in that the majority of members in the House working legally together if called on by the Governer General to do so is not remotely a coup d'état, which would imply that it's unconstitutional.

Further, "non-binding "understandings"" are the backbone of any minority parliament, including the one we currently have. If we're going to reject them outright we might as well have rejected the legitimacy of every government since 2004.

Posted by: Janet | 2009-05-27 8:24:16 AM

It actually might have been illegal, Janet, because the actual Liberal/NDP coalition had even fewer seats together than the Conservatives did alone. The Bloc was not an official member, having done no more than sign a non-binding promise not to bring down the House for at least one year.

Agreeing not to oppose the plurality party on confidence votes (which is done only so long as it is not in the non-plurality party's interest to force an election) is one thing. Claiming to have the official confidence of the House, which is a requirement to form a government, is quite another. So it remains highly questionable whether this "coalition" met the requirements set out by Parliamentary law. Expert opinion was divided, and some even talked of a Constitutional crisis.

Despite the chattering classes' delusions to the contrary, Canada is not Europe; she has had only one coalition Parliament in her history, and none since 1920. So this is virtually uncharted Constitutional ground. In any case, it was not a slam-dunk certainty that should have been obvious "to any stupid person," as Fact Check so snarkily put it.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-05-27 9:16:08 AM

Wow what a great system. Why work at all when Big Brother will give you everything you need?

Posted by: JC | 2009-05-27 12:56:33 PM

Gee, if only this worked in real life that I could eliminate my debts by spending more.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-05-27 5:19:10 PM

Hey Alain, just imagine...my credit card is at 54.000...I can reduce this amount by using it more and not even pay the interest. Yep that should make everything ok. All I have to do is promise a bunch of BS and get re elected and I can have a new credit card.
I'll start by promising not to use the credit card...sure that ought to fool them.
Criminals and Morons, "that's" what we vote for.

Posted by: JC | 2009-05-27 8:12:48 PM

Stephen Harper should have let the coalition go ahead by sticking to his principles. Does anyone honestly think the coalition would have been successful at governing, not a chance. Especially when one considers the fact the Liberals were going to have a leadership race going on while Stephane Dion was Prime Minister.

That would have put the Conservatives in a much better position if an election came about. They wouldn't be responsible for the massive deficits, nor any other policy abortions that came from NDP Cabinet members.

Instead we now have a Conservative Party which is indistinguishable from the Liberals.

Excuse me while I vomit a little bit wondering why the hell I donated money to Harper in the last election.

Posted by: Alberta Libertarian | 2009-05-27 8:24:42 PM

We already know the Liberals are idiots. What is this post really saying that we don't already know? I don't get it.

Posted by: epsilon | 2009-05-28 8:26:25 AM

I've seen the comments here about a coup d'état and how it was or was not. I think we need to look at exactly when the planning was done to for this so called coalition. As I understand the timing the NDP were planning this even before the election results were in. To me this is exacting a coup d'état and is completely and totally in-excuseable. All parties that attempted this should be held accountable and eliminated in the next election

Posted by: ray | 2009-06-05 5:21:12 AM

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