Friday, March 06, 2009

What to do with a foot stamping PM

While this headline no doubt makes for some glee in certain political corners, "Liberals stand down in election standoff," the substance of what's going on here is not bad at all.

What do you do with a foot stamping politician, after all, whose track record is my way or the highway and continues to hold his breath in response to a reasonable request for accountability? While job numbers are tanking and major Ontario cities are being devastated? You take the high road, if you're a responsible politician and work it out. That, it appears, is what will be happening in this latest electoral standoff that didn't need to be elevated to that level but is only framed in that manner due to the one-track threatmeister of a PM. The "stand down" looks to be a media narrative, but, that'll happen. You decide what's going on.

The Liberal action today:
Liberals plan to table a motion Monday calling on the government to specify which departments and programs would receive the money.

But Goodale said they won't debate the motion or force a vote on it until late March, giving the sides several weeks to reach a compromise.

He also indicated the Liberals could amend or drop the motion altogether if the government comes up with some other way of assuring them that the fund wouldn't simply be a blank cheque.

"We have signalled to the government one way to do it. They may have other proposals to make. We'd be very interested to hear what their proposals are."
And the Harper reaction that, while taking the opportunity to get in a dig, suggests that the Conservatives are on their way to taking up the Liberal gesture:
Harper has so far refused to provide details in advance of how the fund would be spent.

He did not repeat his election threat Friday. Instead, he used a highway funding announcement in Nova Scotia to put more pressure on the Liberals to approve the stimulus fund so that money can start flowing in time for the spring construction season.

"Rather than trying to throw up roadblocks, they need to get out of the way and let that money flow," Harper said.

He contended it's impossible to provide details in advance of how the money would be spent because the government is still negotiating with the provinces on specific projects. But he said the details will be revealed between now and June as projects are approved.

"Look, it's in this government's interests to get those details out as quickly as possible. We will," he said.

"But there is no excuse for an opposition that has been saying we need to deliver money more quickly to now say we need to delay that money or say things like we need to have parliamentary sign-off on every individual project. That is not realistic. It's not going to work that way."
Maybe not that way, but it's very likely that in the next few weeks, some "way" will be worked out that meets the consistent and very reasonable demand for accountability over this $3 billion fund. In the meantime, good blogging material all around.

h/t CV, BCer, FnW.