Sunday, May 31, 2009

On pre-emption

It's virtually inevitable that the Libs' spin doctors will rush to pounce on a misleading headline rather than listening to what Jack Layton has actually said about the NDP's strategy for the rest of the spring session. But while the spin may be inevitable regardless of how obviously false it may be, a bit of pre-emption can't hurt. So let's make the NDP's position clear.

The NDP has never propped up the Harper government, and isn't about to start now.

What Jack Layton did say today is that the NDP won't be moving a confidence motion of its own. Instead, its opposition day and other efforts will be directed toward trying to shepherd EI reforms through Parliament.

Now, if one wants to question whether the party's focus should be on removing Harper from power, that would make for a fair issue. Though unlike in January when the Libs decided that they preferred to leave Stephen Harper in charge, there's a serious question about whether there's a realistically available alternative - or whether another election would simply lead back to square one.

But I'd defy anybody to try to spin the following as a message that the Cons can expect any NDP support on a confidence motion:
"What they would want us to do is get their pensions protected, get the EI system fixed. So that's exactly what we've been doing and we'll continue to do that. As to what the other parties will do, they will have to make up their own minds. We're prepared for an election if it comes to it."
For those following along at home, remember that an election is only possible if all three opposition parties vote together to bring down the Cons. Which means that if the NDP was about to vote with the Cons on a confidence motion, there simply wouldn't be any issue about election preparedness, nor any decisions to be made by the other parties.

Instead, Layton is signalling that while his immediate focus is on improving EI before the summer recess, that doesn't mean the Cons can expect the NDP's support if any confidence votes go forward. And it'll still ultimately be for the other parties - especially the Libs - to make the choice to prop up the Cons on any confidence votes if the NDP's efforts at an EI fix don't work out.

No comments:

Post a Comment