Sunday, November 30, 2008

CP: Tories relent on public sector strike ban

First they backed down on the election financing. Now, the public sector strike ban. Still waiting on stimulus. Moving the budget up to January 27th isn't good enough. Still, it's increasingly clear Harper is running scared.

Tories relent on public sector strike ban (URGENT-Fiscal-Update)
Source: The Canadian Press - Broadcast wire
Nov 30, 2008 12:40


OTTAWA - The Conservative government scrapped a second element of its economic update and advanced the federal budget date in a frantic bid to save itself from being toppled.

The brisk backpedalling continued Sunday with the government relenting on a plan to ban public service strikes.

That came mere minutes after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty moved up what was expected to be a February or March budget to Jan. 27.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government was clearly taking the extraordinary threat of its demise seriously.

The prime minister, his cabinet and senior officials have been scrambling all weekend to derail opposition negotiations to supplant the Conservatives with a Liberal-NDP coalition supported by the Bloc Quebecois.

The crisis was sparked by the minority government's recent fall economic update.

(The Canadian Press)

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penlan said...

Hmmm - what about pay equity? That's still there too.

Jeff said...

Right you are, Penlan. I've heard no indication of movement on that yet. Perhaps they're saving that backdown for Monday.

Anthony said...

i dunno jeff

A january budget (which historically is where the fiscal measures are) and the fact that it is Christmas break in 2 weeks is probably enough to push this whole thing off to January.

"The opposition wants a plan. We will give them a plan. See you in January."

Harper loses face but its better (for him) than losing 24 Sussex

Jeff said...

Antonio, we don't need a budget tomorrow, but we do need meaningful stimulus now. There is even money allocated in the last budget that has yet to flow. We don't need a budget now, but we do need meaningful action on stimulus now.

Real, meaningful action on stimulus now, combined with a pr blitz this week, may be enough to cause the opposition to rethink, if public opinion runs negative. But no stimulus action and just moving the budget up a week or two won't cause the opposition to lower swords, in my opinion.

Were I Harper, I'd come up with some ramped-up infrastructure spending heavily weighted to Quebec, with an eye to picking-off the BQ.

IslandLiberal said...

Wouldn't work; he can't offer the Bloc anything that they couldn't get from the Liberal-Democrats (barring something utterly outrageous like trying to repeal the Clarity Act), since BQ influence would inevitably be greater in that situation, and the Liberal-Democrats aren't out to curbstomp the BQ in rural Quebec and cut off all their funding.

Jeff said...

True IL, but let's not forget the public relations aspect of this. If Harper can manage to appear like he's willing to be reasonable, and if he can turn the public against the coalition by painting them as unreasonable and undemocratic opportunists (what the massive PR blitz this week will be about), then he may lower the resolve of the coalition partners. If he can lower it enough, and dangle a carrot to one of them, then one of them may decide its better to take it and declare victory, in the face of public opposition.

So much will come down to the battle for public opinion, and Harper's willingness to compromise.

Yvan St-Pierre said...

I hope the negotiation teams are also working on an agreement for coordinated backtracking then - if one party leaves the boat now, the coalition threat is as good as dead for the remainder of Harper's time: whomever defects now can't be trusted again.

Actually, I'm starting to think that backtracking together after a couple more concessions (say pay equity, more retirement funds flexibility and some credible commitment for manufacturing and forestry) could actually be optimal. The uncertainty we are generating right now is certainly not in our favour, if all else is equal enough.

Anthony said...

even if the opposition took over the reins, when do you think they would be able to pick a cabinet and get meaningful measures through the House?

certainly not before the end of January.

Thats why I think Harper will manage to weasel his way out of this

no opposition days until Christmasand a budget in the first week back.

McCallum and the Liberals need to prepare a counter budget immediately.

Jeff said...

Yvan, indeed. If the coalition is not to happen, it's important that all three parties are united in that decision and declare victory, say Harper should in the future continue to work with all parties, or they won't hesitate to hold his feet to the fire again.

Antonio, I think there are things that the executive can do within the current fiscal framework, without legislation. And lesgislation, outside a budget, can be fast-tracked. And the sitting could be extended.

As well, if the Cons try to stall the fast-tracking of help for the economy, the public backlash will be massive.

Still, it's far from a given this thing will still come off. A week is a lifetime.