When I first learned that Ryan Sparrow had not only been rehired by the Conservatives but would be working with Diane Finley, I knew that EI reform would be long on message and short on substance.
This was the catalyst that could trigger a fall election, something Stephen Harper is terrified of; so they needed a master of spin, and there are few better at it than Mr. Sparrow.
I wonder if Kory Teneycke's leaving had anything to do with Ryan's return? Teneycke had tried to change the way that the Conservatives dealt with the press, by actually allowing MPs to talk. Mind you they only read press releases from the PMO, but at least we learned they weren't all mute.
But back to EI reform and a possible fall election.
Less than a year ago, Stephen Harper couldn't wait to get to the polls. He even broke his own law to make it happen, though his eagerness had more to do with the "In and Out" scandal that was threatening to bring down his government. A total of 66 Conservative candidates from the 2006 election campaign, including several elected MPs and cabinet ministers, could have been facing (alleged) fraud charges.
Witness testimony and hard evidence was becoming increasingly difficult to downplay, so Harper immediately closed down the committee, launched yet another lawsuit against the Canadian people and distracted us all with an election.
The case is still on the back burner and last I heard the Conservatives counter suit will begin in November. Can't wait to hear how they're going to defend (allegedly) forging receipts to claim expenses they never incurred.
In many respects it will be better if Harper is out of office at that time, because he will no longer be able to abuse his power to deny accountability. This is a very serious matter that can't be simply swept under the rug, and puts the entire legitimacy of his office into question.
But now that the opposition parties are threatening to bring down his government over much needed reform to EI, he's begging us to protect him. There are even rumours that he may again go to the Governor General on his hands and knees asking her to once again prorogue parliament.
Will she? I hope not. But if she wants to avoid an election during an economic crisis, that the Conservatives denied was even coming; she could always ask Mr. Ignatieff to head up a coalition government that best represents the majority of Canadians. Harper has certainly been throwing the 'c' word around a lot these days.
For me, I was just happy to hear that Gilles Duceppe had lent his voice to the 'unemployed' in this country who are being silenced because of Harper's ideology. When our PM was President of the National Citizens Coalition, he hated the fact that we had such a lenient system. His NCC demanded that seasonal workers and 'pregnant' women be removed from the system and always felt that EI recipients were getting a 'free ride'.
And then of course his famous speech when he said: "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it... In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance."
I really like Gilles Duceppe. A very smart man who has Stephen Harper's number.
Bloc threatens government over EI changes
By ELIZABETH THOMPSON,
August 1, 2009
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe is threatening to bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government unless it makes changes to Canada's employment insurance system.
In a message posted on the Bloc's website yesterday, Duceppe said the committee set up by the Conservatives and the Liberals to examine the EI system appears to be "an empty shell intended to buy them time."
"This committee will only prolong the injustice experienced by the unemployed who do not now have access to the system."
Duceppe, who believes people should qualify for EI after 360 hours of work, says he will wait to see the committee's report and then decide whether to support it.
"If we find ourselves in elections, the Bloc Quebecois will be ready. It is already. And I am too."
Duceppe's comments come as Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has suggested he could trigger an election this fall and Harper is warning an election could hurt Canada's fragile economic recovery.
Defeating the government, however, will take the combined vote of the Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP. (We only need to hear from you now Mr. Layton)
Duceppe's message will likely quash rumours he is about to resign as Bloc leader.
In his posting, Duceppe says he is looking forward to hitting the road for his summer tour and discussing the Bloc's proposals with Quebecers.
Bloc officials say Duceppe has a busy schedule planned this fall.