Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Time is up

As you will have heard or read earlier today, Ignatieff's speech today sent a clear message. The Liberals are no longer supporting the Harper minority government. It appears as if we are headed for a fall election barring some cooperation between the Conservatives and one of the other parties. That seems unlikely although the NDP is opening the door to Mr. Harper this afternoon.

What we are seeing in response suggests nervousness on the part of the government. Railing against an election, ad nauseam as they have been for well over a week now. The "Canadians don't want an election" talking point is not and should not be a consideration in a minority government situation. Western nations have had elections without collapsing over the past year. Canadians themselves put in place a government that could fall at any time. And the record of the government is not good. The survivability of the "not wanting an election" talking point would likely be just about equivalent to the lifespan of the "fixed election date" brouhaha last fall.

And if you need another reminder of the poisonous nature of the Conservative government, look at what's happening today. Conservative partisan games appear to be continuing once again in a big way with a new onslaught from the Conservatives against Elections Canada. Once again it looks like the Conservative party seeks to attack the financial health of Mr. Harper's political opposition. While it's early going and more information is needed on this latest offensive move, it appears oddly symmetrical to the attack on political party financing that occurred last fall. It's a coincidental news item today that reinforces the attack mentality of the Conservatives. Instead of leading or legislating, they litigate.

Of note in today's speech, the isotope crisis was included as a central rationale for no longer supporting this government. It's a concrete example of a major failing by the Harper government. Inaction, incompetence, partisan finger-pointing, failing to support a major Canadian high tech industry, the crisis is a metaphor for why Conservatives don't do government well. It's a perfectly legitimate reason on its own to defeat this government, beyond of course the legion of economic issues that provide compelling rationales to rid ourselves of them too. For the record, here's Ignatieff on the isotope point:
We’ve had four years of this—four years of a government that mismanages our public finances, and a prime minister who divides the country to score political points.

You can’t count on a government that can’t count—and a prime minister who’s only good at division.

Finally, we demanded a plan to deal with the health care crisis.

Twice on Stephen Harper’s watch there’s been a breakdown in the supply of medical isotopes.

Instead of acting, what did Stephen Harper do? He fired the whistle-blower on isotopes. Then he cancelled the MAPLE reactors that would have guaranteed Canadian leadership in isotope supply.

Two years later, he finally revealed his plan: To get out of nuclear medicine and let the provinces pick up the difference.

That’s not good enough for the tens of thousands of Canadian families waiting for cardiac and cancer care for their loved ones.

And that’s not good enough for the millions around the world, who have relied on Canadian leadership for half a century.

It’s simply unacceptable to have the world ask: “Where’s Canada?”

We can do better and we will do better.

A Liberal government will restore Canadian leadership. We’ll stand up for Canadian research and Canadian families. We’ll stand up for Canadian know-how and ensure the world never asks again “Where’s Canada?”
Striking the right notes on this issue, it is an achilles heel for this government.

Onwards into the fall session, looks like it's going to be a good one.