Friday, September 4, 2009

Jack Layton Says No Backroom Deals and Jason Kenney Agrees

With speculation that Jack Layton might prop up the Harper government to avoid an election, both sides are now saying no. Jason Kenney in a radio interview (the audio is not the best on the video) claimed of the NDP: "It's a party of hard-core left-wing ideologues ... It's not like a moderate, centre-left party. These folks, they drink their own Kool-Aid right? (Was this in reference to Jim Jones? You can never tell with Kenney. Not the brightest bulb on the tree) So I don't think we can see a realistic arrangement with the NDP."

I think an arrangement would have meant political suicide for Layton. Yesterday in Halifax a group of young people were handing out free chicken to the media from buckets with Jack Layton's picture on them. It was quite cute. Did Jack get the message? Maybe.

Layton to Harper: It’s all up to you
NDP leader wants action on his party’s policies, or election will be PM’s fault
Provincial Reporter
September 4, 2009

FEDERAL NDP Leader Jack Layton offered the Harper government a lifeline Thursday and said it would be the prime minister’s fault if there’s an election this fall.

But a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed the NDP overture, setting the stage for Canadians to possibly head back to the polls a year after the last federal vote.

Mr. Layton said in Halifax that he wants to see action on NDP policies that were before the House of Commons in the spring — measures to help the unemployed and seniors, and consumers and small businesses gouged by credit card companies.

But the federal leader wasn’t specific on what he meant by action, other than that it must be "concrete."

"I’m not making any backroom deals with the prime minister," Mr. Layton said during a news conference at a downtown hotel.

"I’m simply suggesting that it’s time for him to show some leadership, to reach out and make Parliament work."

The Harper government is again teetering on the brink of defeat after Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff declared this week his party will no longer keep the Conservatives alive.

Mr. Layton had taken delight in mocking the Liberals for propping up the government during spring confidence votes but talked Thursday about doing the same thing.

He said he wouldn’t see it as "propping up" the Conservatives.

"It’s a question of trying to get results for people. There’s nothing strange or behind the scenes involved here. It’s simply suggesting that the decision about whether there’s an election is the prime minister’s decision."

Mr. Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, suggested Mr. Layton wasn’t sincere in his offer to work with the government.

"Mr. Layton is very interested, and it’s clear to everybody, that he prefers working with Michael Ignatieff and the Bloc Quebecois rather than working in the interests of Canadians," he said.

Mr. Harper, who spoke to reporters in Ontario prior to Mr. Layton’s appearance in Halifax, said he wasn’t interested in backroom deals. Mr. Harper said he is interested in useful, affordable ideas to help the economy.

He has said an election would interrupt the country’s economic recovery.

The minority Conservatives must look to the NDP or Bloc Quebecois to survive. Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe has said he’ll consider backing the government on a case-by-case basis.

The NDP, in debt and trailing in the polls, is believed by political insiders to be desperate to avoid an election this fall, but the Tory response to Mr. Layton’s overture Thursday suggests Canadians are likely to head to the polls before long.

Speaking after Mr. Layton’s news conference, Liberal MP Bob Rae said politics is a contact sport, like hockey, not ballet.

Mr. Rae accused the Tories of floating "bizarre" ideas and pooh-poohed the claim that an election would create instability, noting that elections are a normal part of democracy.

"There’s an effort here on the part of the Conservatives to create an atmosphere of total instability," he said. "Well, you know, we’re not a banana republic. We have votes. Mr. Harper’s not a generalissimo yet. He has to get used to living in a constitutional democracy."

Mr. Rae said there is no reason an election need disrupt Mr. Harper’s plans to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Sept. 16 or to attend the G20 economic summit in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24.

The latest polls suggest an election now would result in another minority government — either for the Tories or the Liberals.

The surveys put the two parties in a dead heat, with the Liberals well ahead of the Tories in vote-rich Ontario and Quebec.

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