2 min

Layton’s hope springs eternal

Stephen Harper and Jack Layton had a “cordial” 30-minute meeting in Harper’s Langevin Block office, across the street from Parliament Hill. The topic – the upcoming budget and trying to find some common ground that the NDP can support. Layton walked away with the sense that the two of them agree on the fact that job creation remains a priority, since they can’t consider us out of the recession until our job numbers start to bounce back (even though Harper, who keeps reminding us that he’s “an economist,” knows well enough the technical definitions of a recession and the fact that it is really over at this point). What he did not walk away with was the sense that Harper was going to cancel those corporate tax cuts that the NDP have been targeting since Paul Martin was Prime Minister (and probably even before that). Nevertheless, he lives in hope. Good luck, dear sir, with that, and we’ll see if extending EI benefits is enough for you to declare victory and support the budget.

The government still refuses to talk about the real issues with women’s health as they’ve committed to (that being access to safe abortions and contraception), even after they’ve announced a G8 meeting on their big plans for maternal and child health. Never mind that other countries in the G8 are talking about these issues, and are willing to fund them. And of course, the Catholic Register has taken the issue and twisted it entirely out of proportion. “Ignatieff urges abortion for world’s poor”? Seriously? I believe the line of reasoning is that pregnancies have been terminated since time began, and too many women die from having them performed unsafely. Hence, provide safe ones, fewer women die. Not that this kind of logic matters to the ideologues.

Not that it should be a big surprise, but the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that as our population ages, our deficit is going to get bigger and bigger unless we do something about it. The government’s response? That it’s all well and good for academics to do this kind of long-range look but that doesn’t help in the here and now. And you know, that’s symptomatic of this government’s approach to everything – short-term approaches that will last them until maybe the next election, just another year or two, and forget the bigger picture or the longer term, because that won’t help them right now. Seriously? This is how problems start.

And finally, in a speech at McGill University in Montreal, Her Excellency spoke about the dangers of unchecked capitalism, and of market forces influencing public life. With her five-year term winding down, she has been getting a bit more political (although I wouldn’t exactly say partisan political) in her speeches, and good for her for at least having an opinion on some world issues. Given that part of her job is to provide advice to the Prime Minister (not that this particular one will listen to any, but that’s beside the point), I think it’s a good thing that she’s actually informed about some of the bigger-picture issues out there.

PS – That plane crashing into an IRS building in Texas. WTF? This is one of those differences between Canadian and Americans. If we get upset with the government, we write a strongly worded letter. If it’s really bad, we get a lawyer to write a strongly worded letter for us. But them? It’s guns, and apparently crashing planes into things. Seriously? (And how much do you want to bet he won’t get labelled a terrorist for using such a tactic?)
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