Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The thrill is gone: ways and means motion to pass

It was supposed to be the big event of the week, the ways and means motion coming up for a vote on Friday, a confidence vote at that. If you saw Bob Fife last night though, apparently the mystery is gone. The NDP will support the ways and means motion, so will the Bloc. And further, just to mess with everybody's fall plans, Fife said that the NDP will not be voting with the Liberals when the Liberals move non-confidence in the government at the end of the month. That's pretty big news but given the way things are changing so quickly from day to day, hard to believe. After all, we have Prime Minister Instability on our hands. There's always a threat of an election while he's in the picture. And maybe he won't like hearing that news from Fife and will set about ensuring his defeat. He's been known to do such things.

A few points about this Friday motion though, in case Bob has it all wrong. It includes the home renovation tax credit provisions that took nine months to bring forth. Why? Apparently "...because Finance officials needed more time to draft the details of the program and ensure there aren't any loopholes." And what the heck. What's one more confidence measure thrown on the barbie from Prime Minister Instability? The nation has thoroughly enjoyed this latest one, right?

What's interesting about the motion though, and apparently the Bloc and NDP have made their peace with this, is a curious little amendment that is connected to the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Seems to be Harper poking the Bloc and NDP in the eye while simultaneously and strangely (and successfully) courting those parties.

Here's CP reporting on the contingently framed free trade provision last night:
...the party was surprised late Monday to find that the motion also contains a possible poison pill: a reference to tax measures that will go into effect should Parliament approve separate legislation on a free trade agreement with Colombia.

The NDP is adamantly opposed to the trade pact due to Colombia's record of human rights abuses.

Supporting the ways and means motion would not prevent New Democrats from voting later against the trade pact. But the party must decide whether it wants to be seen to be facilitating the trade deal in any way.

NDP spokesman Brad Lavigne said the party is assessing whether inclusion of the Colombian trade deal tax changes in the motion are "substantial or inconsequential." Other New Democrats characterized the matter as largely "administrative" and not overly significant.

A spokesman for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was quick to insist that "the ways and means (motion) is in no way related" to the Colombian trade deal. He suggested the NDP had made "an honest mistake."(emphasis added)
It's very difficult to accept that a motion that specifically raises the free trade deal has nothing to do with the free trade deal. They're tying the NDP and Bloc to it - if the deal passes - if they vote for this motion. So the Harper game was apparently to make it as hard as humanly possible for the NDP in particular, who have been the most vocal on the deal, to support this motion. Typical. And very unlike a Prime Minister supposedly looking to avoid an election. But if Fife is correct, the poke in the eye has been accepted.

Unless that all changes today or tomorrow, of course. Life under Prime Minister Instability.