2 min

Finishing what she started

As mentioned on Friday, the Liberals blasted the Conservatives for releasing padded EI numbers to try and prove that the Liberal plans for reforming the system are completely ludicrous. Well, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley came out that afternoon to say that she didn’t want to get involved in a match of “he said she said.” Um, right – weren’t you the one that started this off by saying that the Liberal members of the “working group” were in “fantasyland” because they didn’t want to give up on the 360 hour proposal –even though there was no indication that was still their position? Because that seems to me to be an invitation for a bout of “he said she said” if that’s the case, especially if you’re publicly distorting what’s been going on for your own partisan benefit.

But more than that, the Liberals are now alleging that the government side has been leaking information from the meetings, distributing briefings stamped “not for distribution” – which they say is not exactly in keeping with the good faith they were supposed to be coming to this working group with. They’re also alleging that the Conservatives haven’t come with a single proposal on the table – and Finley will neither confirm nor deny that, which seems to be an answer in and of itself.

Mind you, this whole exercise is still one big charade in the lead up to an autumn election, but it’s amusing to nevertheless watch it all play out. It really is the theatre of the absurd.

At the North American Leaders’ Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, there were hopes that Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon might be able to resolve the whole visa situation with a little face-time. (And yes, the government has finally admitted that the visa restrictions have – shocker! – hurt tourism at a time when it’s already taking a hit from a high dollar, H1N1 and the Great Recession). But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

What has been discussed so far at said Summit? That the RCMP will help to train Mexican police as they deal with a worsening drug war, and it’s a modest sum at that. But hey, the new visa restrictions appear to be working – the rate of refugee claims has gone from some 9000 a year to nearly zero. And while yes, 9000 is a big number, they’ve also choked off the legitimate claims with the bogus ones – especially those coming from queers who face genuine persecution – but no one seems to be mentioning that.

And remember that law that passed recently in Alberta that makes it a human right for parents to pull their kids from classes on religion, sexuality and sexual orientation? Well, it seems that experts in the province are saying that it’s only going to make the situation worse for teenaged mothers who are already facing huge hurdles in a system that seems designed to punish them. (The cynical, former-Albertan in me thinks that it’s probably exactly what the system is designed to do, since heaven forbid you’d want to actually encourage new teenaged pregnancies by helping them out). You see, sex education is the best way to combat teenage pregnancies, and well, now that it’s even easier to parents to shield their children from such talk – it’s a human right now, don’t you know? – it’s likely to only make the problem worse.

This week: Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney are off to China to discuss the economy and stuff. Both Harper and Ignatieff are expected to visit China around September – but not at the same time.