Whoever said Canadian politics was boring wasn’t paying attention! I certainly did not imagine that Minister Flaherty’s Economic and Fiscal Update – a tradition of modern Parliamentary democracies – would be the tipping point for a majority of Canada’s politicians. I’d been encouraged to participate in the grassroots’ push for a coalition government, urged to send emails and write letters, but I dismissed the idea as too pie-in-the-sky.
Well I’m taking a huge bite of some mighty fine humble pie right now! The past few days have been a truly remarkable demonstration of how a Parliamentary system of governance can work. I’m not suggesting that it’s the best system around, just that what has been built into it, in terms of checks and balances, seems to work. This is how would-be tyrants and dictators are prevented from taking power.
A coalition of Liberal, NDP and Bloc MPs is the best outcome we can hope for at this time in our history. The coming together of a coalition as diverse as this is truly remarkable and will, I believe, force Parliament to work in the best interests of all who live in this vast and diverse place. As I said elsewhere, it is the only logical response to an ideologue whose drive for power exceeds common sense and common decency in the House of Commons.
That about says it all, doesn’t it? Public. Relations. For the right wing alliance that became the Conservative Party of Canada, governance appears to be meaningless. It’s about business, not government. It’s about dog-eat-dog, not co-operation. It’s about survival of the fittest, not love thy neighbour. It’s really sad, actually.
And then, looking at the text of the Accord that all three parties in Opposition signed, in the Policy section, the coaltion lists its concerns, concerns over and above partisan politics:
Economic Stimulus Package
The top priority of the new Government is an economic stimulus package
designed to boost the domestic economy beginning with (but not limited to):
• Accelerating existing infrastructure funding and substantial new
investments, including municipal and inter-provincial projects (such as
• transit, clean energy, water, corridors and gateways). This would certainly
include addressing the urgent infrastructure needs of First Nations, Métis
• Housing construction and retrofitting; and
• Investing in key sector strategies (like manufacturing, forestry and
automotive) designed to create and save jobs, with any aid contingent on
a plan to transform these industries and return them to profitability and
Rapid Support for those affected by the Economic Crisis
The new Government is committed to ensuring that the federal government has
the appropriate programs in place to assist those most affected by the economic
crisis so that all citizens will be in a position to fully participate in the economic
recovery to follow, including the following measures:
• Facilitate skills training to help ensure Canadian workers are properly
equipped to keep pace with the rapidly changing economy, while
respecting provincial jurisdiction and existing agreements;
• Amend the current law establishing a new crown corporation for
employment insurance in order to guarantee that all revenue from EI
premiums provides benefits and training for workers. Eliminate the current
two week waiting period;
• Lower the minimum required RRIF withdrawal for 2008 by 50 per cent;
• Reform bankruptcy and insolvency laws to better protect pensions; and
• Implement an income support program for older workers who have lost
their jobs in order to help them make the transition from work to receiving
Other Priorities to Stimulate the Economy
• Support for culture, including the cancellation of budget cuts announced
by the Conservative government.
• Support for Canadian Wheat Board and Supply Management
• Immigration Reform
• Reinstate regional development agency funding to non-profit economic
As finances permit, we are committed to moving forward with improved child
benefits and an early learning and childcare program in partnership with each
province, and respectful of their role and jurisdiction, including the possibility to
opt out with full compensation.
It’s unfortunate that children fall to the bottom of the heap, but then again, this is a Liberal-led coalition and it took them 12 years of governance to actually put foward a plan, so I guess we know where we have to place some effort, eh? My kids are 17 and 15 now so maybe by the time they have kids in a decade or so, we’ll have a real plan for childcare in this country!
But I digress. It’s clear that the coalition partners have the interests of the people of Canada at heart and not their own partisan interests. Layton made huge concessions in allowing the corporate tax cuts to proceed. Dion has had to eat some humble pie, too, having said he’d never work with a socialist like Layton. And Duceppe, by providing support to this coalition, could be seen by hard-liners as jeopardizing Quebec sovereignty.
Pretty sweet times in Canada, eh? It’s definitely a Maple Syrup Revolution!
with thanks to skdadl @ pogge.ca for the blog post title.