Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Conservatives playing games with EI reform

The character of the Harper government shines through once more today as we get news of yet another fast maneuver, this time on the back of Employment Insurance reform and those Canadians who are in need of help. A year of soaring unemployment yet this government won't get serious unless and until it's politically necessary for them. So it appears they've got some political motivation all of a sudden as they announced yesterday, Labour Day, that they intend to introduce EI reform, of some unknown variety, during the fall parliamentary session. The notable context for this move, of course, is that it comes only with the threat of an election pointed squarely at them.

As most Canadians would be aware, there was a working panel on the issue of Employment Insurance reform comprised of Liberals and Conservatives that was supposed to have spent the summer negotiating reform to EI. The panel was agreed to in the spring between the parties, put this way in the Globe report today:
The EI working group was actually spearheaded by Mr. Ignatieff, and agreed to by Mr. Harper, in June to stave off an election.
But what happened this summer? The Conservatives stalled on getting around to meeting, leaked inflammatory and incorrect costing figures of Liberal proposals and failed to propose anything themselves. Liberals were warned about entering into such an arrangement, mocked even for trying to achieve something. The Conservatives would of course obstruct such an effort. And they did.

The notion that they should work with other parties has never computed for the minority government Conservatives. They have their chance to cooperate, as they did this summer, yet take every opportunity to cripple and break such efforts. Then when their bluff is called, as it has been in the past week, they scramble into action, like cockroaches when the lights come on. What kind of responsible governing party behaves this way? Not a good one for the country, that's for sure.

So now there's a new game on EI afoot, perhaps a gambit to obtain the NDP's support. Or more likely, to just propose something themselves, take their chances on being defeated while looking like they were trying. Whatever the calculation underlying this latest game, the fact that they failed to work constructively during the summer session to bring these proposals forward and work them through demonstrates that they're not really serious when it comes to actually solving problems. It's all getting to be quite enough.