Monday, August 31, 2009

Liberal prep for upcoming session, possible election

Finally the Liberals are developing a platform that will give Canadians something to judge the Liberals by--and no doubt will provide a target for Conservative critics. Notice that the party spokesperson is for the most part Ralph Goodale rather than Ignatieff. Somehow I doubt that Ignatieff will try to defeat Harper with polls as they are at present. Of course Harper could insist on goading Ignatieff to such a degree that he will be more or less forced to call an election. Harper escaped more or less unscathed from the last fracas so one never knows what he might do. The Liberals at this point seem completely vague about whether there will be an attempt to bring down Harper or not. Different Liberals say different things!

Liberals prep for upcoming session, possible election

By Juliet O'Neill, Canwest News ServiceAugust 30, 2009 2:01 PM

Federal Liberals will gather in Sudbury, Ont., on Monday to plot strategy for a parliamentary session that could plunge Canadians into a fall or winter election campaign.
They will weigh in on how soon to attempt to defeat the Harper government and discuss a campaign platform that spells out an eight-year vision of where Canada should be in 2017, the country's 150th birthday.
Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said the three-day caucus will cap a summer of preparations to "participate in a very vigorous session of Parliament this fall and to run an election campaign if it comes to that."
The final decision on whether to try to pull the plug on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government is up to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
"That decision has not been taken," Goodale said. "But there is a rising feeling in the country that this is a mediocre government and it's just not good enough."
Senator David Smith, co-chair of the Liberal campaign, played down speculation an election would be triggered at the first opportunity in early October, soon after the Sept. 14 resumption of Parliament.
"I think it would be very short-sighted of any leader of any party not to be election ready when you're in a minority situation," he said.
"That isn't to say we'll be pushing an election button every day, because I think Michael Ignatieff has consistently taken the position (that) we want to make Parliament work and we're well aware of the fact there were three elections over a four-year period - '04, '06 and '08. But we'll be holding them accountable."
Under an agreement between Harper and Ignatieff that averted a spring election, the government will face seven opposition days by the end of December, any of which could be a test of confidence.
A confidence vote would also be held if the government presents any tax or spending measures. The New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois would have to unite with the Liberals to defeat the Conservatives who hold 143 of 308 seats in the House of Commons.
The Liberals' first chance to submit a non-confidence motion will be three days after the government submits its third economic accountability report during the week of Sept. 28. The second chance is between late October and mid-November.
Smith and Goodale said the Liberals would not defeat the government solely on the issue of employment insurance eligibility rules, an issue that was sent to a bipartisan working group for the summer under the Harper-Ignatieff agreement and on which little progress has been made.
"Fixing employment insurance is only one dimension of what needs to be a much larger economic and social package," Goodale said.
He said the Liberals have seen no progress on other issues on which they faulted the government before the summer recess.
As well as seeking a national standard for EI access, the Liberals accused the government of failing on delivery of stimulus funds for infrastructure projects, spelling out deficit reduction and dealing with the isotopes shortage.
"Those are all symptomatic of issues of competence, issues of honesty, issues of divisiveness in the government's style of governance and issues of values," Goodale said. "There will be a significant number of factors, not just one issue."
Some Liberals say Ignatieff will face a fatal blow to his leadership if he triggers an election and does not win at least a minority government.
A minority is considered the likeliest scenario for either the Conservatives or the Liberals, given a steady stream of polls showing equal support for both main parties and neither party shining in Quebec, where the separatist Bloc Quebecois remains strong.
Goodale said the election platform is "well advanced" and will contain a positive vision about Canada's future, using the 150th anniversary of Confederation as a benchmark for education, health and economic security.
He said the platform will be designed to contrast a positive, forward-looking Ignatieff against Harper's "negative, almost pathological partisanship."
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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