2 min

A more fiscally austere narrative

At his “Open Mike” town hall on Thursday, one noticed a definite narrative forming in all of Michael Ignatieff’s responses. “We’re in a $56 billion deficit,” he would say, prefacing most of his answers. “I didn’t drop us into this mess. Those guys did.” And it means lowering expectations when it comes to Liberal promises for the next election. Childcare? Scaled back drastically. High-speed rail? Not now, but maybe we can do something about regional high-speed in the meantime. Pharmacare? Unlikely, but let’s at least get each province giving equal catastrophic drug coverage. Those kinds of things. But the talk of the deficit is now dominating the message. It’ll be interesting to see how that begins to play out as the Liberals shape their electoral narrative in the weeks and months to come.

Jack Layton, meanwhile, has unveiled television commercials about his plan to drop the tax on home heating. But I’m still waiting on the specifics for which types of heating that refers to, considering that it would be a nightmare to drop the “heating” portion of taxes for those who use electricity for heating (and it would be unfair if they were excluded).

Incidentally, during Friday’s Question Period, Libby Davies asked after the HST and other tax measures.

There are warnings that lowering the legal threshold for impaired driving could clog up the court system and tax our prison system even more. Of course, Mothers Against Drunk Driving thinks “that’s crap,” but this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that, or read that lowering the threshold wouldn't accomplish any measurable reduction in impaired driving-related accidents.

Having visited the Francophonie in Switzerland, Harper is now off to Ukraine, where he will focus on human rights and trade, apparently.

Harper also announced the date for those three federal by-elections – it’ll be Nov 29th.

Every time our officials give gifts to foreign dignitaries, they come from the Government of Canada Gift Bank. No, seriously. And The Canadian Press has a look at just what it contains.

NDP MP Irene Mathyssen is going to introduce a Private Member's Bill this week to ban plastic shopping bags in Canada – the winning entry of a contest that asked high school students how they would improve Canada. But as with any Private Member's Bill, we’ll see if this is the one she actually puts forward when her turn comes up on the Order of Precedence, or if it’ll just be another one of those “symbolic” ones that many an MP likes to put on the Order Paper to make a point.

And the Iraq War resisters are hoping that the release of all those classified documents on WikiLeaks, showing the extent of human rights abuses in Iraq, will help their case to stay in Canada. I’m not sure it will, given this government’s narrative where they’re concerned, but you never know where the IRB is concerned – it just may change an adjudicator’s mind.

This week – the auditor general releases her interim report on federal stimulus spending on Tuesday. Could this spell political doom for Harper? Thomas Mulcair thinks yes; John McCallum thinks we won’t see the really damning report until 2011.
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