Thursday, March 12, 2009

(Video) Conservatives play political games with EI, Liberals don't read the fine print

Is it any wonder everyone thinks they're all a bunch of idiots up there in Ottawa? Given today's events, I don't think there is. Unfortunately, they're a bunch of idiots that control many billions in spending that can impact our lives for better or for worse, so we can't just ignore them.

In short, the Liberals agreed to bypass Senate hearings and pass the budget today, after before insisting pretty firmly we wanted to give the Senate a few days to do its sober second thought thing, because it turns out the Conservatives buried a provision in the fine-print around the effective date of the extension (by five weeks) to EI eligibility. Everything else in the budget comes into affect April 1st, but the EI changes come into affect retroactively two weeks BEFORE the budget is passed. Therefore, every day the budget isn't passed people fall off the EI roles that would otherwise get benefits.

The Liberals say we didn't notice this before, and that the Conservatives didn't bring it up until Jim Flaherty's Senate testimony this week and they were trying to set us up with political shenanigans. The Conservatives say they were totally talking about this all along, and the Liberals (and every other political party and the national media and the blogsphere and your mom) just never noticed.

First, let me just say this to my Liberal Party: WHY THE HELL DIDN'T YOU READ THE DAMMED BUDGET! I mean, really, what the hell guys? I mean, I know it's a thick document. Lots of fine print. But we know the Conservatives are sneaky-sneaks. Did no one read the dammed thing? I know finances are tight, but let's find a way to get “guy that reads the budget to check for sneaky Conservative shit” back on the payroll, k? Or maybe give everyone in the office a few pages so it goes faster. Order in some schwarma, make it a party. But really, you're killing me here guys.

Ok, done venting. Now, Conservative Party, you guys are so full of shit here it's ridiculous. Of course you buried it, hoping they wouldn't find it, so you could jump up and say “Ah Ha! Those dastardly Liberals are holding back EI from Canadians in need! They totally suck, and so forth!” You weren't clear about when the EI changes were coming into effect at all. If you were, someone would have noticed. Other parliamentarians, the media, anyone. They'd have been all over it. But no one did.

Not even your Senators. The Conservative Senate leadership agreed to a time line for Senate debate of the budget that included hearings this week and passage before the end of the month.

Why, pray tell why, would the Conservative Senate leadership agree to this time line if they knew it would deprive Canadians of five weeks of EI benefits? Did they just not care? Were they setting up the Liberals, hoping they'd take the bait so you could then blame them for obstruction, so you could score political points at the expense those EI benefits? Or did you just not tell your Senators this was in the budget either?

And why set this sort of time frame for bringing the EI changes into effect, which is completely out of precedent with normal procedure, unless you're screwing around? Using the EI eligibility of millions of Canadians during an economic crisis as a political football to try to either tar your political opposition or force them to ram through billions in needed stimulus is disgusting. It is patently obvious that the Harper Conservatives have learned nothing from the fiscal update brouhaha. Clearly, political gamesmanship remains more important to The Harper Government then bringing Canadians the help they need.

When finally clued-in to the Conservative EI trap, the Liberals had little choice but to skip the hearings and pass the thing forthwith. We'd already passed it through the House, and it was going to pass the Senate as well. It's far from a perfect budget -- I'm upset with a lot of the provisions – but this is an economic crisis and this is stimulus that Canadians want and need.

The Liberals decided to support this imperfect budget because, thanks to the pressure of the opposition parties, it is substantially improved from the economic update. Also, Canadians don't want an election right now. They want action on the economy, and they want all the parties to make a good faith effort to work together. The Liberals have been making that good faith effort, and the Conservatives have responded with political games.

Now, though, that this budget has passed and this needed stimulus should be on its way to Canadians, my patience with these Conservatives and their political games is running extremely thin. I think Canadians' patience is wearing thin too.

Read more at Impolitical and Liberal Arts and Minds.



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11 comments:

The Right is Where it's At said...

The Conservatives have been demanding,God knows how many days now for the liberal senate to pass this budget pronto. Well take a good look at this article.For some strange reason you forgot to link to this story. How does that crow taste now humm? But I digress!

A BCer in Toronto said...

Either you're deliberately missing the point or you're just stupid. Or maybe both, I don't see why they have to be mutually exclusive.

Of course they've been saying pass the budget pronto for weeks. What else would they say? Don't pass the budget? Pass it, but take a really long time? Pass it or don't pass it, we have no strong feeling one way or the other. Of course they've been DEMANDING pass it pronto, Captain Obvious.

Of course, at the same time, their Senate leadership agreed to a timeline involving Senate hearings over the next week or two and then a vote at the end of the month. So, what up with that then? Did the Conservative Senators go rogue, and defy the leader's wishes? Can't Harper control his Senators?

The point, dear commenter, is they deliberately buried the EI implementation timeline in the budget, and then waited for this week to spring it on the Liberals (who for some reason didn't think they had to read the whole budget, just the Coles Notes) to create this little political drama.

But go back to your talking points.

The Right is Where it's At said...

First of all ABC I'm niether stupid nor I'm I missing the point.Please have a little respect!

You're the one who is a little off the track here. A budget is one,if not the most important piece of legislation in this country.

You mean to tell me that the liberals pass bills for the better of this country without reading it first? It's not up to the government to tell the liberals in the house what's in it. They had the budget for weeks now.I assume that they could all read! Don't you think?

If they passed this bill without reading it first,God knows how many other bills went threw the house in the same fashion.

The liberals are the ones playing politics here. Because they just realized that it wouldn't be advantageous for them to delay it further period!

Red Tory said...

Dumb as a sack of hammers, that one.

Anyway, great post. I have a slightly different theory, but maybe I've just been listening to Mr. Ronin for too long. ;)

Mike said...

Great post Jeff. I agree with what you said pretty much entirely.

However, I have two lingering concerns:
1) Does this mean Harper has been granted a blank cheque to spend the $3 billion mini-stimulus fund he wanted?

Because one article I read and a separate post by Coyne seemed to indicate that the budget passed today also granted blank cheque spending for that $3 billion mini-stimulus fund.

I had thought that would be dealt with by a separate vote taking place at the end of the month, but now I'm confused and if in fact the Liberals let that one go too, then very disappointed. I'll reserve judgment till I learn more as you have quite clearly demonstrated the unreliability of media reports on this issue already.

2) I'm quite concerned that there may be other creepy stuff buried in the budget we haven't discovered yet and now it's too late to change any of it....

This budget did not get sober second thought unfortunately - did anyone even get to speak to the pay equity issue in committee?

The Senate took a vote to split off all non-stimulus related measures from the budget (pay equity, etc...) but the orders were given to vote it down - I happen to think we could have won that battle and still passed stimulus within a matter of days but I guess I'm in the minority in my view.

Well now all I can for is that this government is replaced before summer so that the most offensive elements of the budget can be reversed before any real damage is done.

penlan said...

Jeff,

I knew about that provision last week. I read it on someone's blog - can't remember whose - that is was backdated 2 weeks, etc. So if that blogger knew & I knew why didn't the Libs know? It doesn't make any sense to me.

Gene Rayburn said...

digress
One entry found.

Main Entry:
di·gress
Pronunciation:
\dī-ˈgres, də-\
Function:
intransitive verb
Etymology:
Latin digressus, past participle of digredi, from dis- + gradi to step — more at grade
Date:
1529
: to turn aside especially from the main subject of attention or course of argument

Why cant Conbots understand the meaning of the words they use? Big words make them "sound smart" I guess.

Tiny Perfect Blog said...

Mike,

Yes to both of your questions. Iggy wrote a big, fat, blank cheque to Harper. After promising not to do just that.

A BCer in Toronto said...

It's not up to the government to tell the liberals in the house what's in it

Actually, it kind of us, although they should still have read the dammed thing more closely. But governments don't just introduce bills, yell pass it or the puppy dies, and then run away. They introduce it, explain it, answer questions, and so on. The Conservatives seem to want to bypass that whole review thing by deliberately adding a clause that punished out of work Canadians every day the bill wasn't passed. They didn't need to do that. They could have choosen a set implementation date. Instead they selected a mechanism designed to discourage parliamentarians from fully examining the legislation, and doing their jobs. Kind of weird for guys that were all about accountability. You're right, the budget is important. So why wouldn't the Conservatives give it time to be properly considered? Why the political gamesmanship?

Mike,

On the $3B, my understanding is this hasn't been dealt with yet. The money needs to be authorized in estimates that haven't been introduced yet. The Liberal accountability motion, as far as I know, is still on the table and can be dealt with before the end of the month.

Penlan, I don't know. They dropped the ball. They weren't alone though. The media were taken by surprise to. And while the NDP objected to the EI changes overall, I don't recall them bringing up the implementation date games, and if they'd known I'm sure they would have. Nothing from the BQ either. So if that blogger did have the scoop, too bad it didn't break wider.

penlan said...

Jeff,
Well I think if everyone really was surprised, including the media, then the media really, really needs to make a point of getting this out to the public. The voter & the jobless need to see what a horrible game Harper, Flaherty & the Cons were playing. Using the unemployed to try & make political fodder of the Libs, trying to make them look like it was Ignatieff's fault that they didn't get their EI extensions is a terrible, terrible abuse.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Penlan, I wouldn't hold my breath. It would involve the media admitting they missed it to, and they're loathe to do that.

Except for Don Newman, god bless him. In the second clip, he admits he had no idea until Flaherty said so earlier this week. And if Newman isn't in the know, I don't expect average journalists to be either. Anyway, I give Don credit for admitting he missed he. The Libs have tried to skate around the fact we messed up here too.