Jack Layton: `Why I´m voting with Stephen Harper`

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NorthReport
Jack Layton: `Why I´m voting with Stephen Harper`

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ottawaobserver

I wonder if you could edit that to strip the Javascript out, NR.

NorthReport

Why I'm voting with Stephen Harper

By Jack Layton, Citizen SpecialSeptember 21, 2009

 

Last Tuesday, after speaking to students at Queen's University, a young woman approached me with a question. She told me her father was a forestry worker who had been laid off after more than 20 years with the same company in Thunder Bay. Her family was devastated and it looked like she would not be able to continue her education. They eventually scraped enough money together for her fall semester, but her further studies are in doubt. Her question to me was: what I could do -- what could New Democrats do -- to help her dad and others like him?

I've heard many such stories, some with tragic ends. People lose hope.

My party began calling for significant Employment Insurance reform well before this year's budget. In the spring session, we presented a carefully considered motion to reform EI that earned the support of a majority of the House of Commons. It suggested the elimination of the two-week period that forces workers to wait for benefits to kick in, uniform national qualifying hours, allowing self-employed workers to participate, raising the wage replacement rate from 55 to 60 per cent, and making it easier for workers to get training.

The Conservatives refused to make any of these changes. To win the support of Liberals, Mr. Harper offered a blue ribbon panel on EI that decided nothing and fell apart when Mr. Ignatieff said he was ready for an election.

Meanwhile, the OECD forecasts that Canada's unemployment rate will soon hit 10 per cent. The Canadian Payroll Association's recent survey showed that more than half of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque.

For many, a long, hard winter now beckons. Job losses are expected to continue until next spring. Our party represents many who will suffer most. In forestry, mining and manufacturing communities, hard-working Canadians are asking for our help.

Last week, Mr. Harper put a $1-billion proposal on the table to extend benefits for long-tenured workers. Workers who have claimed less than 36 weeks of benefits in the last five years will be eligible for an extension of benefits of between five and 20 weeks.

The Conservatives claim this reform will help 190,000 Canadians. There is some debate about the numbers, but what is clear is that this winter, without extended benefits, tens of thousands of Canadians will slide off EI and onto welfare.

The choice before New Democrats is simple: We can direct nearly $1 billion to families in desperate need or waste $300 million on an election.

This new reform falls far short in many ways. It doesn't cut waiting periods, increase benefits or create uniform access across the country. We are under no illusions that this bill fixes the major problems in the EI system. We will continue to work for further changes to EI. In fact, we have a dozen proposed laws before the House that would improve other elements of the existing system.

But my party cannot, in good conscience, vote down legislation that is a step in the right direction.

 

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/voting+with+Stephen+Harper/2015436...

NorthReport

We agree with the NDP-give people more access to EI

 

Bank profits are soaring again, executive bonuses are again sky high, but all the Harper government has for workers who are hanging on by their fingernails are a few reluctant dollars from the EI fund, an insurance fund that is in surplus.

The CEP's Dave Coles says, "We are grateful to the NDP for squeezing a few dollars out of the Harper government. With all of the pulp and paper mill bankruptcies and closures, thousands of our members, who have lost their jobs, are facing the loss of their severance pay and pensions. Jack Layton has no choice but to support these measures. Layton is the only one who takes the distress of unemployed Canadians to heart."

The Conservatives are following the ruthless path hacked out by the Liberals, which narrowed access to EI dramatically. Michael Ignatieff was unable to get anything concrete in return for his support of Harper's Reform Party style tactics. At least Layton was able to wrest some benefit for Canadians and their families in these desperate times.

Bill C-50 means up to 190,000 more people are eligible for EI, for up to 20 more weeks. Some of those people are our members who have paid into EI in good faith for years, even decades.

"EI is not charity. It is not a "big fat check." Employment insurance is supposed to be an economic stabilizer, a tool that enables consumer spending and acts as a cushion for the unemployed, preventing them from slipping into poverty. It is something Canadians paid for, and which they should be able to turn to to bridge the current crisis which Stephen Harper and his ministers keep telling us is over. Just ask an unemployed forestry worker if the crisis is over," says Coles.

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/September2009/21/c7259.html

remind remind's picture

This unemployed forestry worker family member says not by a long shot. In fact, the Cons are up to  more than a few dirty tricks in respect to EI access and entitlements.

Frmrsldr

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Fidel

Stingy Liberals want a phony-majority power grab but not help any workers whatsoever. They had their chance to eat blunders and crap wonders while in government for twelve years and then feigning opposition to the Harpers since 2006. The time to actually oppose has come and gone for the Liberal Party, a political party that has been out of touch and out of tune with ordinary Canadians for the last 30 years.

West Coast Lefty

I agree with Jack that this bill needs to pass, but let's get it done quickly and then demand stronger measures from the Conservatives on EI, pensions, climate change, before any decision is made by the NDP to support them until the spring budget.  No blank cheques! Keep the pressure on Harper, Jack and caucus! Show us the money, Steve Money mouth

NorthReport

Let's get ready for an election. With the Liberals now in freefall,  it's coming faster than we might have anticipated even a few weeks ago.
 
 
Ignatieff's elusive leadership uninspiring
 
Michael Ignatieff delivered this week in Toronto a speech variously described as "much anticipated" (Globe and Mail), "big" (National Post) and "major" (unnamed Liberal insiders). I'd have called it dull, dated and dubious.
With the opinion polls turning against him and Liberals themselves reportedly uninspired by his elusive leadership, Ignatieff needed a hit. This was to be his justification for provoking an election. This was the pony he'd ride into the looming campaign. The glue factory beckons.
Ignatieff's speech was Liberal bumph at its mealy mouth worst. He promised to tackle, to help, to stand up for, to promote, to invest in, to support or to make a priority of just about everything. It was just a longer way of saying what his regrettable predecessor, Stephane Dion, said so much more succinctly, just before he got creamed: "You think it's easy to make priorities?"

Ignatieff even invited loud guffaws by promising a national child-care program. The Liberals already have used this trick, repeatedly. Jean Chretien promised a national child-care program in the election campaigns of 1993, 1997 and 2000 and then failed to deliver in his three successive terms as prime minister. Of course, Iggy was living in the U.S. for most of those years and probably missed it.

Maybe he doesn't know that national day care now is a symbol of Liberal perfidy. Maybe he thinks it's an original idea:

Ignatieff: "I've got it! We'll promise a national day-care plan!"

Other Liberals: "But, boss, we already . . . "

Ignatieff: "Do as I say!"

With Ottawa as it is spending $54 billion a year more than it takes in, now is perhaps not the best time to announce expensive new programs. Most Canadians know this. We've been through the ordeal of eliminating a massive federal deficit. We know it's not easy. Ignatieff, however, missed all this. He was living in the U.S. during those difficult years. That explains why he thinks he can eliminate the deficit and pay for a national day-care plan without increasing taxes or cutting spending. He'll do it, he says, by "growing the economy." The rest of us can only slap our foreheads and wonder why we didn't think of that.

Ignatieff will grow the economy, he says, by "investing in Canadian people" and by "standing up" for Canadian business, industry and workers. With all the standing up he plans to do, he won't need a chair in his office.

While Ignatieff is standing up, taxpayers would be paying up. He would not, for example, allow a "Canadian champion" to fail, as Stephen Harper did with Nortel. How Harper was supposed to save Nortel, Ignatieff did not make clear. Investors lost a fortune on the bankrupt company. Why would taxpayers want a piece of that action? We'd get a better return in a casino.

 

http://www2.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/third_page/story.html?i...

janfromthebruce

You know, I think spring sounds nice. Each day shows that Iggy is just not progressive - and laugh - national childcare. Actually one can go back to the 70s when libs first trotted that one out.

"It was first proposed in 1970 - a program that would provide affordable daycare across the country. It was promised when Brian Mulroney and the Conservatives swept to power in 1984. And again four years later." source

SCB4

As it happens I support Layton's EI stance. But damn, did he have to title that article "Why I'm voting with Stephen Harper"?! Salt in the wound!

 

Stuart_Parker

Can I ask: what portion of New Democrats who now endorse this position supported the previous position of voting against the stimulus bill and all the other recession relief policies on the grounds that a vote for Harper was wrong, plain and simple?

Stockholm

SCB4 wrote:

As it happens I support Layton's EI stance. But damn, did he have to title that article "Why I'm voting with Stephen Harper"?! Salt in the wound!

 

 

I had the same reaction, but I wonder whether Layton wrote the title or if that was the title the media gave it?

Michelle

Judy Rebick: "I just want to start by saying that these so-called reforms to the EI system that the Harper government has put forward, and that the NDP looks like they're going to prop up the Harper government to pass, SUCK."

NorthReport

But the alternative might have been to have an election, and with the Liberals crashing, in all probability a Harper majority. That to me sucks.

Michelle

No one picks their own headlines in the paper.  That's up to the headline writers.  I highly doubt Layton would've picked that title.  (But I would!  I think it's perfect!)

SCB4

Michelle wrote:

No one picks their own headlines in the paper.  That's up to the headline writers. 

Even leaders of national political parties? You'd think Layton's comms people would want to exercise some control over the title. But anyhow, what's done is done.

 

KenS

Michelle- that was beautifully executed!

Sunday Hat

Stuart_Parker wrote:

Can I ask: what portion of New Democrats who now endorse this position supported the previous position of voting against the stimulus bill and all the other recession relief policies on the grounds that a vote for Harper was wrong, plain and simple?

Brian Topp - former NDP Campaign Director - on this:

"The Liberals, so my tribe thought, handed the New Democrats a precious gift shortly after Stephane Dion was elected red-team leader.

The Liberals started supporting Stephen Harper's government. They did this in many ways. Explicitly, in private committee meetings and on selected votes (for example, by voting to support scab labour during industrial disputes). And implicitly, through a long chain of abstentions on numerous key votes, each potentially defeating the Conservative government.

The New Democrats hoped this practice, continued under Michael Ignatieff, could be used to persuade some Liberals to switch their votes. Every conceivable communications device was deployed to make sure Canadians knew that the Liberals were supporting the Harper government in the House.

What did the orange team learn?

They learned that when Canadians aren't looking for an election, that means they aren't looking for opposition parties to vote to cause an election. And so, fun as it was to torture the Liberals with their numerous votes and abstentions (especially in all-candidates meetings last election), it turned out that nobody outside of Ottawa was watching, and nobody cared."

So, I guess the short answer is: they changed their minds.

I'll wait and see how this unfolds but I have to say I didn't think Jack looked great when he declared he'd vote against Harper's Budget without seeing it. It's hard to argue that we need a minority government and the NDP can make a difference in one if your position is: "We'll never work with these guys at all ever"

 

Stockholm

Of course Ignatieff has basically announced that he is now going to vote NO to absolutely anything and everything the Harper government proposes without even looking at it. In other words, Harper could propose to give a billion dollars to shelters for battered women and Ignatieff would automatically vote NO for no other reason than that Harper proposed it.

I realize that this is too complex an argument to make with the average person, but to me back in January we were in a situation where the Tories had completely disgraced themsalves and had lost the trust of parliament and if all three opposition parties had voted them out at that point in time - it would have changed the government. Also, given that the NDP and many other people saw the whole proroguing of Parliament as a totally outrageous "coup" there was more of an argument that the harper government ought to be voted down asap on principle.

That was then and this is now.

KenS

The 'now' part is what's relevant.

If you are talking about what most people except the commentariat think, Jack having said in January he would not support the budget no matter what, is totally irrelevant now, and never had the relevance people here ascribed to it.

Is what Jack does and says right now going to look good to people on this board? No way. And at least to a very large degree that is deserved.

How is it going to look to the rest of NDP's universe of supporters and potential supporters?

Jury's out on that one. He's very unlikely to end up looking bad or foolish- precisely because even most people who take politics seriously don't really care about that inside the beltway stuff. And even people who see that stuff, and know there is a heavy dose of unspoken self interest in the NDPs actions, care more that an election is unecessary and undesirable; and that there may be concrete benefits in what Layton and the NDP have done and may do.

Sunday Hat

I think the NDP thought that opposing Harper more than any other party would help them.

Instead, they got squeezed out of stories (if you've already decided how you'll vote there's not much news to report) and went down in popular support.

So they've decided to change tactics. That's probably smart given that the other tactics weren't working.

There's a lot of risks here - especially since the NDP was very self-righteous about their "pure" opposition to Harper. But, I will note, that the people who seem most upset about this are people who were last in full swoon over the prospect of a coalition government led by Dion.

Bookish Agrarian

Michelle wrote:

Judy Rebick: "I just want to start by saying that these so-called reforms to the EI system that the Harper government has put forward, and that the NDP looks like they're going to prop up the Harper government to pass, SUCK."

And what precisly has Judy achieved on EI reform?  I dearly respect Judy Rebick, but unless she is going to try to become elected and deal with the concrete reality of actually getting something done in a parliament where it is impossible to impose your will on the majority acheiving something is better than going on and on about a theoritcal postion.

I am still fascinated by the fact that during the late 80s and into the 90s the position of helping older workers by extending their benefits in recognition of their verified harder ability to garner re-employment was the height of progressive reform.  Now it isn't.  Big change that.

 The EI bill likely needs to be amended (hard to know as no one has passed me a copy of the legislation for some reason Laughing) to make sure it does that, but this sudden change of face by many of the same progressives that used to argue in favour of this kind of measure is profoundly revealing.  I don't know if Judy Rebick was ever involved with these issues back then, but I know from personal experience many of her cohorts were. Yet somehow the times they are a changin' now that the glass is half full rather than sitting on the shelf collecting dust where we could dream about what to put in it.

Unionist

KenS wrote:
And even people who see that stuff, and know there is a heavy dose of unspoken self interest in the NDPs actions, care more that an election is unecessary and undesirable; and that there may be concrete benefits in what Layton and the NDP have done and may do.

I disagree. I think people - even the most "apolitical" - care far more about whether politicians are acting with integrity, consistency, keeping their promises, not purely out of self-interest - than whether or not they have to have another election. Elections don't leave indelible wounds. Perceptions about honesty and consistency do.

 

Bookish Agrarian

No people see politicians as squabbling children and would like them to work together in the greater interests of Canada.  While it is true that mostly people don't care about an election being called we have now reached a saturation point for the average non-ideological voter and they don't give a rat's rear end about who is the actual government as much as they want politicians to stop behaving like toddlers and to share the sandbox.  Dig into the polls and it shows this over and over again.

We policy-political wonks can't stand the idea of a Harper government - the average person just doesn't care that much because they think all politicains are pretty much the same.  It is this deep cynicism that the Conservative play to time and time again.

remind remind's picture

Just for you BA

http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=4101887&...

And here is a link to all the othe EI reform Bills that the NDP has put forth, that are still pending in different stages of reading, and that have NOT been removed from the Order Paper.

It seriously tees me off that some people are pretending that EI reform rests upon this one particular Bill, and that it is the be all and end all of everything in respect to EI reform.

It makes me think they have a separate agenda altogether, as it seems they are brokering in dishonesty at worst, or leaving out the bigger picture  and all the facts, at best.

If this government falls, all the other EI Bills that the NDP have been working on, fall too. And then the work starts again, if there is a minority that is, if there isn't, then it will be at least 4 years before any reforms can happen again.

You know, I was going through the private mewmbers Bills the other day, and I was stunned to see that the NDP has by far the larger amount of Bills before the House, and they for the most part all deal with social justice issues. It made me realize just how hard working they are, as opposed to sucking on the tax payer's dime, and doing sfa, like the Liberals are.

Bookish Agrarian

Thanks remind.  I am going to have a good run through on the Bill as soon as I have time.

 

Michelle

remind wrote:

It seriously tees me off that some people are pretending that EI reform rests upon this one particular Bill, and that it is the be all and end all of everything in respect to EI reform.

It makes me think they have a separate agenda altogether, as it seems they are brokering in dishonesty at worst, or leaving out the bigger picture  and all the facts, at best.

Who are those "some people" that you think are "brokering in dishonesty"?

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Up until a few days ago, I was reserving judgement on whether supporting Harper's so-called "EI reform" was tactically the right thing to do.

But as the details have come out on how little this EI bill will do, Layton and the NDP should have told Harper to shove this bill where the sun doesn't shine.

You have to bear in mind that I'm speaking as someone who has worked with the unemployed for the better part of two decades.   This so-called "reform" will do nothing for the folks I deal with who have already fallen off the EI system...who are on social assistance, who are racking up huge debts to tide themselves over, who have lost their homes etc.

The NDP should not be content to accept crumbs for the unemployed from Harper's budget table.   $57 billion has been robbed from the unemployed by successive Liberal and Tory governments.   This so-called "reform" puts less than a billion back into the pockets of the unemployed...there's $56 billion left to go.

Also, Harper is trying to divide the unemployed into the so-called "deserving unemployed" and the "undeserving unemployed"...those working in precarious employment, the long-term unemployed etc.  The so-called "undeserving unemployed" are largely women, young people, those from immigrant communities etc.  Layton and the NDP supporting the Harper bill plays into this attempt by the right-wing to demonize large segments of the unemployed.

True, I've always supported the NDP as the best political party (outside Quebec) to defend the interests of working people (in the broadest sense of the term).   But that support is not uncritical.    I don't believe in giving any party a "blank cheque".    And when the NDP is doing something incredibly stupid I'm going to say so.

We need to turn up the heat on all of the political parties on EI.   At last night's Toronto town hall on EI, Daniel Champagne from the Montreal Labour Council gave some good examples of previous "parallel" campaigns on EI that have run in Quebec.   It's no accident that EI reform is a major issue in Quebec and that the  BQ has taken fairly strong positions on EI over the years...often stronger than the NDP. In Quebec there is enough of a mass movement to force the parties to listen.

So my view is that we can't trust the political parties, we have to put our trust in building broad-based social movements...movements that are strong enough so that all parties have to listen to them.

 

 

 

Stockholm

The thing is that i think that the Conservatives really WANT an election right now. They think this would be the ideal time to have one. Their strategy is to do the least amount they can get away with without having it look like their intransigence is forcing an election. But, there is no reason for them to offer anything more than the bare minimum because if the NDP and Liberals and BQ all give a thumbs down to what they are offereing, then we get an election and they can blame it all on the opposition - which is exactly what they want.

So from a tactical POV what does it gain for the NDP to play into their hands, vote down the government, have a snap election and AT BEST get a parliament similar to the one we have now in which case the unemployed are no better off, or we get a Conservative majority in which even the crumbs on offer right now will be withdrawn.

remind remind's picture

radiorahim wrote:
This so-called "reform" will do nothing for the folks I deal with who have already fallen off the EI system...who are on social assistance, who are racking up huge debts to tide themselves over, who have lost their homes etc.

Ummmmm....... what kind of  EI reform, right now this minute, would help those who have already fallen off the EI system and who are on income assistance and have lost their homes, etc?

Seriously what do YOU see it as being? I am seriously interested in knowing what YOU would do for them.

Or do you just see that if these people are already in that positon, so why shouldn't 100's of thousands of others be there too? And that the NDP should just piss off from helping them until bigger reforms can occur, maybe 4-8 year, at best, down the road?

Because we personally, are in the position that this small reform, will not help us, but I do not begrudge those, whom it will help, the help. We do not all have to be equally living in misery, where we cannot help each other at all.

So...if you have some actual ideas for implimentation that could helps us,  immediately, that the NDP should push for and hasn't already in the numerous Bills on EI reform that they have going on currently, then I am all for hearing about them, so I can push the NDP forward on them too.

 

 

remind remind's picture

Never said for sure that anyone here was doing that, michelle, I stated what it seems to me could be occuring, on several fronts actually, some here and some in blog world, and yet still other directly involved in politics

Some perhaps are just naively thinking this is it, and do not know about the bigger picture and the numerous Bills on EI reform already before the House.

While still others know and are ignoring it for some reason. It is my speculation that these people are brokering in dishonesty, as they have a political agenda.

Certainly you are not trying to claim, that people here and elsewhere, are not political game players, working from their own agenda, and if it means being dishonest by way of leaving out information, they too will do that, are you? I pretty much thought that everyone realized this to be a truth of Politics 101.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Stockholm I don't give a rat's ass about what's good for the NDP.   What I care about is what's good for the unemployed.

I care about the fact that the NDP is playing into Harper and the right-wing's long term agenda of demonizing large segments of the unemployed as somehow "undeserving" of help.

The NDP is not using their position to demand major concessions from the Harpocons.   Instead, what they're doing is helping Harper push through measures that they'd planned to push through anyway...even Harper is feeling the heat and has to be perceived as doing "something".

The NDP is an unreliable ally of the unemployed at best.

HeywoodFloyd

Stockholm wrote:
So from a tactical POV what does it gain for the NDP to play into their hands, vote down the government, have a snap election and AT BEST get a parliament similar to the one we have now in which case the unemployed are no better off, or we get a Conservative majority in which even the crumbs on offer right now will be withdrawn.

I would expect that the NDP has realised that no-one wants an election and since the LPC is feeling their oats that it befalls the other opposition to prevent an election.

The general public is right. The politicans are all the same and the bluster about having an election is their way to generate headlines and perpetuate the polite fiction that the opposition is opposing the government and ready for an election. I have said it before and I'll say it again.....if the LPC votes against a confidence motion, the NDP and/or Bloc will support them.

madmax

The Labour movement and social movements were asleep at the switch all summer.  Especially after Ignatieff EI gunfight at the Harper Coral ended up getting him wounded and settling for a "BLUE RIBBON" task force.  So little was said and heard over summer, that the Liberals were content to walk away from EI reform. Infact, the Liberals had no conviction for supporting the reforms presented by the CLC or various labour groups.  The more the CPC shouted 45 days, the less interested the Liberals became. Where were the REBICKS and others all summer?  The Liberals announced that they would NOT bring down the government over EI. 

The program for Career Assistance for Long Tenured Worker is a small program that costs 300million/ year to implement. Thats a paltry 900million over three years, but this is more then the previous Liberals and Conservatives have ever bothered to put into EI in the last 15 years. It was far easier for the Liberals to TAKE 46 BILLION and hand it over to their corporate pals, and easier for the Conservatives to Divert 8 Billion in 2 years to their pet projects.

The EI bill that the NDP produced which the Liberals support until they oppose it, is when groups needed to speak up and say, what the hell is going on here. Does anyone give a shit about the unemployed or is this simply Ignatieff doing an about face, because EI was popular, then realizing it wasn't that popular with the working public, to walk away from it.

To me, its better late then never for Labour and Social groups to speak out.  It would be wrong to deny those Long tenured workers that qualify the extra benefits.  Get those benefits through so that they are shared across Canada, instead of regionally, as is presently the case with Career Transition for Long Tenured WOrkers.

Then FIGHT and FIGHT LIKE HELL to get back the benefits that the Liberals stole from the Employees and put the Harper governments feet to the fire to reinstate those lost benefits.  But it requires lots of noise, and as soon as there is enough noise, not only will the government be brought down, I wouldn't be surprised to watch the Liberals campaign on EI reform.

In the meantime, hell isn't freezing over, and from what I can tell, the NDP has yet to support eliminating womens rights, unlike their Liberal Counterparts.

 

madmax

radiorahim wrote:
The NDP is an unreliable ally of the unemployed at best.
  Theres lots to be said about the NDP, but when it comes to the Unemployed, and  I am willing to compare my work with massive unemployment to yours on EI, the NDP is the ONLY ALLIE for the unemployed at present.  

I ask you how, Harper could pass $900million in increased EI expenditures alone? They require the support of one party. Certainly you can bring a government down over this. And to those who could benefit the NDP would look like ASSES for voting against an increase in EI and bringing a government down.

Quite Frankly, the NDP has to support this bill, get something for the Unemployed, and CONTINUE TO PUSH HARD on REAL EI REFORM.

This bill is not EI reform, it is a program that will be expanded across Canada. IIRC the NDP is the party that advocates for Universality of programs and the Conservatives and Liberals to do not.

Serious EI reform is there, presented by the NDP and has been year after year after year, and voted down year after year after year, but the LIBERALS and CONSERVATIVES.

The Liberals spent this year, supporting the bill, but instead of helping to push it through this spring, the Liberals choose to play High Noon with Harper and Ignatieff got shot.

remind remind's picture

Still waiting on radiorahim's ideas and proposed actions that we can all get behind, which have not already been proposed by the NDP.

madmax

 

Remind... Don't overlook this quote.

radiorahim wrote:

We need to turn up the heat on all of the political parties on EI.   At last night's Toronto town hall on EI, Daniel Champagne from the Montreal Labour Council gave some good examples of previous "parallel" campaigns on EI that have run in Quebec.   It's no accident that EI reform is a major issue in Quebec and that the  BQ has taken fairly strong positions on EI over the years...often stronger than the NDP. In Quebec there is enough of a mass movement to force the parties to listen.

So my view is that we can't trust the political parties, we have to put our trust in building broad-based social movements...movements that are strong enough so that all parties have to listen to them.

I completely agree.  

 

remind remind's picture

Well most definitely I agree with that too, who wouldn't, at first blush,  but I am wanting to know what the movement will be based upon, and what to push for and discuss with others, in an effort to get them joining said movement.

I really want to know what is different than what the NDP have already been pushing for.

A political

Stockholm wrote:

Of course Ignatieff has basically announced that he is now going to vote NO to absolutely anything and everything the Harper government proposes without even looking at it. In other words, Harper could propose to give a billion dollars to shelters for battered women and Ignatieff would automatically vote NO for no other reason than that Harper proposed it

Isn't this voting NO with even knowing what Harper could propose exactly what Layton did with the last Harper budget.  He annouced the NDP would not support  the budget before he knew what was in it.  Sure seems the same to me.

Stockholm

"Stockholm I don't give a rat's ass about what's good for the NDP.   What I care about is what's good for the unemployed."

Fine, so how is it good for the unemployed to have a snap election that will likely result in the election of a totally reactionary government that will take the results as a mandate to withdraw what few crumbs are currently on offer to the unemployed?? How?

remind remind's picture

Also madmax, what could actually be done to help those whose EI has run out and who are in the process of losing everything,  as radiorahim suggests that he believes something could be done and that the NDP is remiss in not doing it.

Or should we just bash the NDP for their alleged failures, and not do anything immediately, so 100's of thousands of others are in the same position too?

Frankly, I do not want to see others in the position we are in, if it can be prevented, it should. And then the rest can be continued to be fought for.

As I stated above and gave links to, there any many EI reform Bills in the works. That will die if this government dies.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

How you respond in a political crisis like this one is what counts most of all.   Has the NDP used its position to make any additional more "radical" demands of the Harper government as a pre-condition for support?   Not at all.

They've simply accepted whatever "crummy" reforms that the Harper government has put forward.   It's the "half a loaf is better than no loaf" argument.   But this can go on forever.  It can become a quarter loaf, an eighth loaf...or in this case a 1/57th loaf...given the $57 billion stolen from the EI fund.

Only about 10% of the unemployed will receive will see any money in their pockets as a result of this change.    And when the rubber hits the road, my guess is that probably an even smaller number of the unemployed will receive any help...the devil always being in the details and how it ends up being implemented by the bureaucracy.

I think that the position put forward by Toronto's "Good Jobs Coalition" should be a starting point for talk of EI reform.

1.  Reduce the qualifying period to 360 hours

2.  EI benefits for 50 weeks for workers in all regions of the country.

          Provide a "special extension" of EI benefits for one year while the national unemployment rate remains above 6.5% paid from general revenues and to extend "EI Part 1" benefits to cover the entire period that a worker is in a retraining programme.

3.  Raise EI benefit rates to 60% of a workers earnings using their 12 best weeks of earnings.   Raise the maximum benefit payable, abolish the "allocation" of severance pay and eliminate the two week waiting period.

Workers are in an economic crisis and need to be "bailed out" as much or more than the banks and the corporations.   The NDP needs to speak out bluntly about this and stop "pussy-footing" around.    They'd actually gain support this way and wouldn't look like a bunch of frightened opportunists trying to avoid an election campaign.

As for saying that the labour and social movements have been "asleep", I say bullshit.    I can only speak of what's happening in the Toronto area...not  being that familiar with what's happening elsewhere.

There have been large noisy demonstrations at EI offices here since the spring.  Also demonstrations held at both Iggy and Tory MP's offices...like Peter Kent and Jim Flaherty.    There was a major EI demonstration involving thousands back in June.  Also last night's "town hall" meeting at Ryerson University.    Oh yeah and several busloads of demonstrators picketed Diane Finley's office in Simcoe a few short weeks ago.

So the labour and social movements are far from "asleep"...although much more needs to be done.

What we need as an ally, is an NDP with some guts.  We're not getting it.

 

 

 

 

Michelle

I think that Layton makes good points in his article about how it's a step in the right direction and therefore they can't vote it down.  I also like that he outlined the stuff that he brought to the table and that the Conservatives refused.

I don't know, I guess I just feel like he's not demanding enough.  Now, if the Conservatives WANT an election, then sure, they won't budge.  But I'm not so sure that an election would return a Harper majority.  If it did, that would be terrible for unemployed people, I agree.  But if it returned a Liberal minority, then perhaps they'd be easier to reason with and to wring concessions from than the Conservatives.

So, I can see Stockholm and remind's points here, about the NDP settling for this one little (and it IS little) concession they've wringed out of the Conservatives.  I know that the NDP will never, ever, ever form government, so they have to work with whomever they can get concessions from, whether it's Liberals or Conservatives.

But I lean more towards the NDP standing up for working people, as opposed to giving in to the Conservatives.  They're really just not doing that.  As radiorahim says, the labour movement is standing up.  Too bad the NDP isn't backing it up.  Aren't they supposed to be the party that stands behind working people?

Michelle

Nobody is saying that supporting older workers is "evil and satanic".  That's ridiculous.  Show me where anyone has said that.  Anyone at all.

Bookish Agrarian

 

You know as I read this thread over again it occurs to me what is sorely missing in progressive circles is the voice of farmers because we are so grounded in practical reality.  Judy Rebick has done some really good work on food issues, but it seems to me that she and those like her have missed one of the fundamental lessons of life farmers know in their bones.

 

Sometimes you can do everything exactly the way the 'book' or 'theory' tells you is the right thing, but you get very poor results.  That's just life and you have to work with what you have. You can plant your seeds at the exact right moment, under the exact right weather conditions.  You can get your seed drill set just perfect.  You can race around the field and get everything planted without a single equipment failure.  On paper your crop should turn out perfect.  Instead though an early frost comes, or the rain holds off to long, or like this year you get extended cool damp weather, or maybe nothing happens that you can tell.  But still your perfect paper crop isn't when you go and look at the reality in your field.  What you have to work with is what is in front of you.  You make the best of what you have and hope you get a decent price or that you will have enough to feed your livestock through the winter.  You just have to deal with the reality in front of you.  There's no theory to fall back on.  It is all practical reality and it is mooing at you to be fed.

 

Other times you can do everything wrong, plant late, sow too heavy or too thin, break every shear bolt in sight yet you end up with a bumper crop.  That too is reality, but if you think it is because you are so damn smart- reality will have a way of teaching you a lesson pretty quick.  Still other times things turn out so bad the only alternative is to plow that desired great crop under in the hopes it provides fertilizer for next year.  Again there is no theory, only what can be achieved with the tools and results at hand.

 

We are in a minority parliament.  The NDP can only get passed what other parties will also support.  Short of a majority NDP government that is reality.  Getting support for any workers right now is a major accomplishment.   Expecting the NDP to magically fix everything given the reality of what is facing them in parliament is frankly short sighted and disingenuous.  The other reality facing us is that the Liberals managed to turn an unlikely majority Conservative government into a distinct possibility by some very poorly thought out messaging.   If it means the NDP has to water its wine a bit and never get the credit for doing it to stop a possible Harper majority I can live with it.

 

And I have noticed in several threads now, not one person condemning the NDP has been willing to address the fundamental change that has taken place in terms of it once being progressive to support extra benefits for older workers due to their inability to find re-employment as quickly as other workers to now it being evil and satanic.  I guess that's politics for you though.

Bookish Agrarian

That might be an over simplification, but look at the way many posters in this thread, including your linked comments from Judy, describe what is being offered.  It isn't crumbs and it isn't a slap in the face to other workers.  It is exactly what some older worker need and what we progressive always said we wanted, until we didn't apparently. 

If the arguments were this is good, but to be great we need more like this...    Then that would be fine.  However, the arguments are being made that this isn't perfect for everyone so stuff it.  That is not only foolish it is disrespectful for the thousands of workers this change will help.

Michelle

I don't think it's an oversimplification, BA.  It's a downright fabrication.  No one has ever claimed that supporting extra benefits for older workers is "evil and satanic" or even wrong.  Is this the kind of respect you have been talking about wanting to receive from others who disagree with your political point of view?

SCB4

Michelle wrote:

I don't know, I guess I just feel like he's not demanding enough.  Now, if the Conservatives WANT an election, then sure, they won't budge.  But I'm not so sure that an election would return a Harper majority.  If it did, that would be terrible for unemployed people, I agree.  But if it returned a Liberal minority, then perhaps they'd be easier to reason with and to wring concessions from than the Conservatives.

Hmmm, I recall Layton trying to 'reason with' and 'wring concessions from' a Liberal minority gov't in Nov 2005 and coming up empty handed.

Bookish Agrarian

Layton and the NDP supporting the Harper bill plays into this attempt by the right-wing to demonize large segments of the unemployed.

 

I just want to start by saying that these so-called reforms to the EI system that the Harper government has put forward, and that the NDP looks like they're going to prop up the Harper government to pass, SUCK

 

No one picks their own headlines in the paper.  That's up to the headline writers.  I highly doubt Layton would've picked that title.  (But I would!  I think it's perfect!)

 

The NDP should not be content to accept crumbs for the unemployed from Harper's budget table.

I care about the fact that the NDP is playing into Harper and the right-wing's long term agenda of demonizing large segments of the unemployed as somehow "undeserving" of help.

But I lean more towards the NDP standing up for working people, as opposed to giving in to the Conservatives.  They're really just not doing that.  As radiorahim says, the labour movement is standing up.  Too bad the NDP isn't backing it up.  Aren't they supposed to be the party that stands behind working people?

I'm sorry I must be confused because these comments clearly demonstrate support for a bill that will get close to a billion dollars to older workers in improved benefits while they struggle to find employment and are not over-heated anti-NDP rhetoric for that party supporting it.

Michelle

BTW, we had a number of older workers at the town hall yesterday, and I know that radiorahim, who was there last night too, works with mostly older workers who have been downsized.  And you know what they were telling us?  That a good number of them won't even be helped by this legislation because they won't qualify.  That's why they're calling it "crumbs".

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