Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Conservatives Hold Biggest Liar Contest. It's a Tight Race.

Despite media reports that an election would not stop money from flowing, the Conservative caucus once again held a crack party, and just like the last time when their jobs were threatened, began a series of high pitched yelps and muffled growls to try and convince Canadians that they were being wronged.

However, I've recently learned that this came about after a caucus meeting where Stephen Harper announced a new contest.

The Conservative who could tell the biggest lie during yet another deceitful campaign, would win a copy of Brian Mulroney's latest book Honest Government is for Sissies, and an autographed picture of George W. Bush in a speedo.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that they all came out in their best form, taking turns at telling falsehoods, each one a bit more bizarre than the last.

Word has it that it's a close race between Tony Clement and Vic Toews. I hope Clement wins. I have his rookie card.

Harper-Ignatieff meetings cool federal election talk
Opposition made threat earlier this week over EI system
By Juliet O'Neill,
Canwest News Service
June 17, 2009

Federal election talk cooled as Prime Minister Stephen Harper planned a third meeting today with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to work out a deal on employment insurance and other issues that would stave off an opposition threat of defeating the Conservative government on Friday.

The Prime Minister's Office would neither confirm nor deny a CTV report on Tuesday that the leaders have worked out an agreement to establish a panel to study employment insurance reform, a priority among four issues on which Ignatieff demanded a response from Harper before a vote Friday that could trigger an election.

Harper has rejected a proposal supported by all three opposition parties to establish a uniform work requirement of 360 hours for benefits, replacing a current patchwork of 420 to 700 hours, depending on the regional rate of unemployment. But the prime minister said this week he wants to spend the summer finding a way to allow self-employed workers to participate in the insurance program.

The two leaders met for an hour in the afternoon at Harper's office across the street from Parliament Hill, where Liberal MPs hotly denied Conservative assertions an election would halt economic stimulus projects. Then, after an evening meeting at the prime minister's official residence, the leaders agreed to meet again today.

Both meetings were described as "productive" by officials.

Ignatieff threatened Monday to defeat the government if he did not get a response from Harper on four concerns: more aid to the unemployed; a clear account of stimulus spending; a plan to eliminate the deficit as promised over five years; and a written report on how the isotope shortage is being managed.

It was their first tete-a-tete since January.

Their afternoon meeting coincided with rowdy exchanges in Ottawa's daily question period in the House of Commons, where minister after minister stood and accused the opposition of threatening to paralyze stimulus spending if the government is defeated Friday.

Industry Minister Tony Clement described the Liberal threat to vote against spending estimates Friday as "an abomination."

Treasury Board secretary Vic Toews provoked opposition jeers with an assertion that stimulus action would come to a halt.

"If the opposition votes to bring down the government, infrastructure negotiations, the contribution agreements between provinces, municipalities, NGOs and private sector organizations will immediately cease," Toews said. "Tens of thousands of jobs will be in jeopardy, and our economic recovery will be in jeopardy. The opposition members are being irresponsible."

Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale shot back that all but a tiny portion of stimulus funds have already been authorized by Parliament and defeat would "pose no threat to stimulus, not a penny.

"The threat is the government's inability to get approved money out the door, shovels in the ground and jobs created," Goodale said.

Outside the Commons, Transportation Minister John Baird told reporters an election would bring negotiations on thousands of projects to a halt.

"It's a huge danger because what it means is the discussions we have every single day with provinces and municipalities -- all of those stop," Baird said. "We can make no announcement, and frankly, the public servants can't sign any contribution agreements in an election."

The Liberals are dissatisfied with the government's observation in its economic report card last week that 80% of its stimulus measures are either flowing or commitments are in place.

Ignatieff, arguing that stimulus funds are not getting out the door fast enough, is seeking an exact accounting of how much money has been spent and how much will be rolled out in the next few months.

While almost all $22.7 billion in 2009-10 stimulus spending has been authorized by Parliament, the vote Friday includes $1.6 billion in supplementary estimates Harper said are needed for projects during the construction season.

The Liberals have the deciding vote, because the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois have already declared they will vote against the estimates.

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