Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Mr. Harper Friend of the Working Man

Opposition Leader Stephen Harper denounced the Liberal-NDP agreement as "death-bed conversions and deals with the devil." And he told a business group in Amherstburg, Ont., that he would ask his Conservative party caucus "to put this government out of its misery at the earliest possible opportunity.""An NDP budget gives us no reason to support Liberal corruption," Harper told reporters earlier in Ridgetown, during a stop while he campaigned in southwestern Ontario. "This government is behaving in a completely irresponsible manner with the taxpayers' money. We're talking about a secret deal worth almost $5 billion to stay in power." CBC April 27, 2005

To hear Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, the former mouthpiece of the employers and bosses lobby, the National Citizens Coalition (folks who promote the idea of keeping Canada union free), speak of the "NDP betraying workers" in their deal 'with the devil' to support the Liberals budget is well the kettle calling the pot black if we continue on with the cliches.

In his speech to a partisan crowd of Sotuhern Ontario Business people the word worker came off this free market capitalists lips so many times he was literaly turning pink.

Hail Comrade Harper friend of the working man.

He is so concerned that the NDP bought a pig in the poke, with no immediate benefits for Canadian workers. What benefits might those be? Well the billion dollar tax cut to Canada's big corporations. Yep that puts money in the working families cuts for the rich.

And of course Harpers spin was that the NDP deal was taking more money from taxpayers pockets, but in reality it was taking the money from the proposed Conservative corporate tax break and putting it in the pockets of Canadians.

What Layton and the NDP did for working folks in Canada is eliminate the Corporate Tax give away, which is what the Liberals put in the budget for Mr. Harpers support. And the howling of the Corporate hyenas in Canada was as loud as it was predictable.

The NDP got increases in existing social program spending and immediate implementation on these, in otherwords instead of the Liberal budget which promises these increases over a five year period, these new improved increases will become implemented ASAP. A big win that for the average taxpayer in Canada.

And the NDP added a new program that protects workers from having their pension funds ripped off when a business declares bankruptcy. This was a motion supported by the Opposition parties but not implemented by the Liberal Government. Its a whole new program, and an important one in the era of the looting of workers pensions by companies who declare bankruptcy only to reappear refinanced a few months later.

What the Conservatives and BQ who both denounced the deal are correct in pointing out was that the NDP failed to make a major overhaul of EI a priority in their deal.

"We have proposed very concrete changes and they were defeated by the Conservatives and the Liberals. In this budget there is nothing with respect to the fiscal imbalance. There is nothing with respect to employment insurance, and there is nothing in terms of a good plan for Kyoto," says BQ leader Gilles Duccepe. CBC April 27, 2005

OPPS, and a big OPPS that.

Layton is so fixated on Kyoto, that he missed EI' reform. That would have been as HISTORIC a change as has happened with NDP backed Liberal Minority governments in the past which got us Medicare, Old Age Security, CPP and of course EI. And it would have then been a challenge to the BQ who have lobbied on this issue as much as they have on Gomery. The BQ and the Conservatives both lobbied with the NDP for EI changes, but no party lobbied more for this than the BQ.

The NDP's pathological fear of an alliance with the BQ is the unfortunate undoing of their plan. The problem is that the NDP MPS see themselves as 'parlimentary federalists',in otherwords Trudeauites, rather than as social democrats who would reform federalism to include a soverign Quebec. Despite the party policy saying exactly that, they continue to believe they can be a Pan Canadian Social Democratic party or a Federalist Social Democratic Alternative to the BQ. Fat chance.

As the polls show the BQ is stongly supported in Quebec with the NDP and Conservatives neck and neck but stil way behind the Liberals. And the latest fallout from Adscam is the latest poll that shows 54% In Quebec Back Sovereignty.
"When asked if by voting for sovereignty they still wanted Quebec to continue to be a part of Canada, 56 per cent of respondents said yes and 40 per cent responded no, with 4 per cent undecided.
Renewed federalism remained the preferred option for a sizable portion of the population, according to the poll, but voters are still deeply divided over the issue.When asked if they believed in the possibility of renewed federalism in which Quebec would have its "rightful place in Canada," about 48 per cent expressed confidence it could happen; 45 per cent said no and 8 per cent refused to answer or didn't know.
"What this poll really says is that Canada still remains the first choice of a majority of Quebeckers. But if there is no offer of renewed federalism, Quebeckers are prepared to go to the extreme and vote for sovereignty. In other words they will choose sovereignty by default," Mr. Léger said.
The Bloc Québécois appears poised to capitalize on the backlash against the federal Liberals. The poll says it now leads by 31 percentage points. After distribution of the undecided voters in a proportion equal to the expressed voting intentions, 53 per cent said they would vote for the Bloc, 22 per cent for the Liberals, 12 per cent for the Conservatives, 9 per cent for the NDP and 3 per cent for other parties."

And so once again the two Social Democratic parties in the Commons are on opposite ends of the spectrum over the issue of soverignty. The fault here lies in the NDP old guard like Broadbent and Blakie, who see themselves a parlimentarian federalists, not radical reformers like their predecesors, Tommy Douglas and Stanely Knowles.

Kyoto well the BQ's plan is problematic for whatever Quebec gets the other provinces will want, thus playing into the hands of the biggest corporate polluters in Ontario and Alberta. Instead here again the NDP flubbed they should have demanded changes in the Liberals Kyoto plans, to reduce the taxpayer costs of reforms and put higher penalties on corporate polluters.

Neither of these was done. But EI above all is the biggest miss with this otherwise strategic political move that places the NDP clearly on the side of Ontario Workers, to the left of the Liberals, which is where the polling shows the Liberal vote going, and to the Greens of course, which is why Layton pushes Kyoto.

Kyoto now is a made in Ontario Plan which is close to Laytons heart and he can sell it now or in an election, with the support of Canadian Auto Workers union. It was no mistake that the Liberals made their deal with the NDP shortly after CAW President Buzz Hargrove met Paul Martin yesterday, in support of taxpayer funding of Big Three Auto Projects in Canada.

But to hear the sacred names of NDP leaders Stephen Knowles and Tommy Douglas invoked by Harper in critizing the NDP accord is enough to make one gag.

The Tories are misreading the polls, bouyed by the current feeding frenzy they are preparing for power, to go for power, to call an election, which will at best leave them a minority government.

And if we are only going to have an election only to elect a minority government Canadians ask why not stick with "the Devil you know than the Devil you don't".

Mr. Harper is the devil we don't know and he still scares the bejezzus out of the average social democratic Canadian. And by his own admission in his speech the decision on who governs if he brings down the Liberals is up to the Ontario.

This is not going to be a Federal Election but an Ontario Election.

Quebec will go solidly to the BQ with big losses to the Liberals, Alberta will wipe out its last standing Liberal, and BC and the Prairies will see gains for the NDP.

The Maritimes will be a battle Royale but of not a deal breaker. Unfortunately the NDP did not get the Atlantic Accord pulled out of the budget as the Opposition parties had all demanded. Had they then their fortunes in the Atlantic provinces would have seiously challenged the tough two way fights between Conservatives and Liberals.

Alexa McDonough, New Democrat MP for Halifax, said her party supports the offshore revenue accord and pushed for it to be removed from the budget, but the Liberals wouldn't do it." CBC

But the real election will be in Ontario, which is why the gaggle of Party Leaders spent the weekend there. And the NDP budget speaks to workers in Ontario, as 'flabergasted' Mr. Harper reminded us.


Liberal budget loses $3.6B in tax cuts, gains $4.6B in spending for NDP support

Earlier, Mr. Layton said he had reached a "deal in principle" to rewrite the budget to his liking in exchange for support against a non-confidence motion from the Conservatives. He said a handshake agreement had been struck and said the only commitment the NDP had given the Liberals is to oppose a non-confidence motion seeking to topple the government.

"We're not actually supporting a government, we're supporting a budget," he said. "When the vote comes on the government, believe me, we'll be running hard against them."

The NDP's price: $3.6-billion worth of corporate tax cuts stricken from the budget and $4.6-billion pumped into NDP-selected social programs over the next two years -- affordable housing, education and training, the environment and foreign aid.The deal will be topped up by government funds from a projected $9-billion surplus.

Globe and Mail April 27, 2005

The deal would see $4.6-billion in new spending over this year and next. Though the Liberal and NDP House leaders were continuing to negotiate details last night, the new spending is expected to include $1.6-billion over two years for affordable housing, including a specific fund for aboriginal housing.

Other new spending (all amounts would be spread over two years):

$1.5-billion to the provinces provided there is a pledge the money will go to reduce postsecondary tuition fees;

$900-million for environmental initiatives, such as a program to encourage low-income Canadians to conduct energy retrofits of their homes and an extra cent per litre of the gas tax will go toward municipalities;

$500-million for foreign aid;

$100-million in a "pension protection fund" to assist senior citizens who have lost their private pension due to a company declaring bankruptcy, though only the NDP would confirm that this measure is in the agreement.

The Prime Minister said the deal will not put the government in the red; at least $2-billion a year will still go toward paying down the national debt.

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