Harm reduction
3 min

Kicking and screaming

While Jack Layton danced around the question of whether or not he’d help Michael Ignatieff pull the trigger on the government when the first confidence vote comes up in the last week of September, Ignatieff was up in Yellowknife trying to play coy about said upcoming vote, but he gave the same usual story about trying to Make Parliament Work™ over having an election.

Of course, this all goes back to the very same narrative that they’ve been crafting. It’s not enough for them to try to pull the trigger over the EI issue. Astute observation has put it that the issue over the EI “working group” will build into the larger picture of a government that not only hasn’t managed the country’s affairs well, but that the EI issue will be a “last straw.” Which is certainly the way things are going.

The key to the whole Making Parliament Work™ scheme is that they want to be seen going into an election kicking and screaming. They really don’t want to have an election, but Harper is forcing to have one because he’s just such a horrible meanie whose poor performance just can’t be tolerated any longer. That sort of thing. And for as much as the pundit class – and the Conservative talking points for that matter – say that Canadians don’t want another election, Ignatieff can agree. They don’t want one but we didn’t have a choice – and then hope and pray that the public buys it, and won’t punish them for forcing it. But I doubt we’ll see how well it works until the day after the election.

And if you’re interested, Canwest’s David Akin compared Harper and Ignatieff’s summer tours, and it seems that Harper spent most of his time touring regions his party already holds, while Ignatieff spent most of his time in unheld ridings. Does this mean Harper is on the defensive? And isn’t a defensive battle a losing one? I guess time will tell.

Elsewhere, the Harper government plans to appeal the Federal Court’s decision that they must intervene in the case of Omar Khadr, and the next level is the Supreme Court. They’re also denying that their decision to appeal is a racist one, in the face of the fact that the list of dark-skinned Canadians being left to languish oversees is getting suspiciously long. Of course, the government is also saying that Khadr has been getting “due process” in Guantanamo Bay, and that they would be concerned if he wasn’t. Um, hasn’t the American Supreme Court ruled several times that no one in Guantanamo Bay was getting due process? And that all of the evidence obtained would be inadmissible because it was obtained by torture? That doesn’t sound very reassuring to me – and it shouldn’t to any government either.

And finally, over in Quebec, the provincial government has decided to pull their $600,000 in funding for the Study to Access Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness (SALOME). That’s a harm reduction programme that would compare the effects of addicts being given medically prescribed heroin as opposed to Hydromorphone, a licensed narcotic, and whether the patients would accept in by pill rather than by needle. This follows on the NAOMI project, which showed promising results when patients were given the active ingredient in heroin rather than methadone. The Quebec government said it was a cost-cutting decision, and that the money could be better spent in other projects. Because apparently finding effective treatment options for those addicts labelled “untreatable” isn’t a good enough option.

Up today: Not one, but two emergency committee meetings, happening at the same time! On the one hand, the agriculture committee is meeting over inaction on the listeriosis report. On the other hand, the foreign affairs committee is meeting on the whole Suaad Hagi Mohamud issue. And I’m sure that these will only contribute further to the Liberals’ pre-election narrative of them trying to Make Parliament Work™ but the government just isn’t cooperating, so they’ll be forced to defeat them. Like you do.