In 2005, New Democrats turned corporate tax breaks of $4.6 billion into $1.6 billion for affordable housing, $1.5 billion for post-secondary education, $900 million for transit, $500 million for foreign aid and $100 million for pension protection.
In 2009, Michael Ignatieff could only manage a “blue ribbon panel” on Employment Insurance with limited scope that won’t report until September.
And since Paul Martin was the deadbeat prime minister who bailed on the Liberals’ agreement with the NDP causing the election in 2004, I can’t blame Igg personally for showing that the federal Liberals aren’t in it for suffering and needy Canadians.
But this arrangement satisfies a number of Liberal priorities:
- demonstrating that Igg has the semblance of a problem-solver
- promoting the appearance that the Liberals care about working people after a decade of neoliberal cuts to human supports
- making their base feel like their leadership has a heart
- delaying pulling the plug on parliament until after the summer when no one wants an election
So just as the Liberals ignored their promise to the NDP leading to the 2004 election, the Liberals can now come out after the summer to claim that Harper isn’t worthy of staying prime minister because either the working group isn’t working or whatever other recession-based argument he wants to make.
In the end, he is simply biding his time, enduring the personal attack ads from the ReformConservatives, allowing Harper to continue to not solve problems and waiting for the right time in the fall to crash parliament.
Once he gets his own minority government, we’ll see a continuation of the neoliberal anti-worker plan that began in 1995 and that the Canadian bankers and CCCE will insist upon since they kept the Liberals from entering into a coalition with the NDP.
And if the Bloc continues its hold on Quebec we’ll have no majority government. And if Igg earns a minority, he’ll either have the ReformConservatives or the NDP as supporters.
Igg is touting the merits of cooperation since he’s made parliament work. But when he’s a minority prime minister, expect his parliamentary supporter to get as much uncooperative behaviour as Martin offered 5 years ago.
Let’s just make sure that the NDP gets enough seats to qualify as partner so we can be the ones to try to force Igg to behave like an actual minority government prime minister.