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Laying out a platform plank to show we do have ideas.

I see Steve is a bit concerned that Ignatieff might be laying out a platform plank on reforming unemployment insurance that the Conservatives can steal for their own, or possibly criticize preemptively, as they did with Stephane Dion’s Green Shift.

In the case of EI reform, I’m not as worried. The ground was already laid for this a bit ago, when the Liberals were pushing the Harper government to extend EI benefits, and the Conservatives responded with some rather callous remarks about not wanting to let Canadians sit around at home and live high off the hog on EI; Harper was quoted as saying it would be “paying people not to work”, as if people who were getting EI somehow are at fault for getting it, and inferring that EI benefits should be as skimpy as possible, because people getting EI are no better then people getting welfare.

The Liberals laying out some more details then on what they’d like to do to reform EI doesn’t, I feel, lend itself to attack, since we’ve already gone over this ground before; the Liberals believe during this severe recession it should be easier to get EI and increase the EI benefits, to help people get through their tough time of adjustment while they search and hopefully find new work. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are busy trying to equate people that are on EI to people who are on welfare, and trying to tar them with that dirty brush as people who are milking the system (which is stupid, since every worker pays into this system to begin with – that’s why it’s called unemployment insurance.)

Therefore, I’m all for seeing the proposals the Liberals have on EI reform, and for drawing an even more stark distinction between Liberal policy on EI and the Conservatives; Liberals want to help protect workers with EI reforms, while Conservatives are busy trying to demonize workers who are on EI as being paid to party. It will also help neutralize on this one issue Harper’s silly charge that the opposition has no ideas on what to do to help Canadians through this economic recession.

3 comments to Laying out a platform plank to show we do have ideas.

  • Scott

    Just to be clear, I’m all for seeing something put forward as well. My only point, the timing of saying we will introduce measures to Parliament in “six to eight weeks”. If we’re ready to move now, then by all means, but this is an eternity, it allows the government to prepare for the next conflict. This isn’t a “platform” position, this is a trigger. Remember the last time Harper had time to incorporate coming demands from the opposition? It will depend on whether these guys want an election, and from everything I’ve seen, silly bluster aside, they’re just trying to ride out the economy at the moment. It doesn’t matter what they’ve said in the past, apparently it doesn’t matter what they’ve said days ago, if the Cons want to avoid an election, they can now use this information to pivot and introduce their own measure, on their terms and force us to pass any changes. Never telegraph with the snake, because they’re callous enough to do anything, and they’re quite capable of turning any advantage on it’s head.

  • Originally Posted By Stephen
    By the way, I hope you’re not implying that being on welfare is “milking the system.”

    Not at all.. that’s why I was referring in my post about Conservatives trying to “tar those on EI” with the same dirty brush as they have done with welfare recipients.

  • Stephen

    It would be nice if Liberal reforms to EI were aimed at helping workers. The historical record is quite otherwise, though, so I’m not all that hopeful.

    “Reforms” to restrict EI eligibility carried out in the 1990s under the Liberals meant that many, many thousands of workers paid into the fund but couldn’t collect when they needed it, with the effect that the federal government collected $50 billion+ in EI surplus dollars (a sort of backhanded tax on workers).

    I don’t expect significant change from Ignatieff. Or, let me put it another way: I expect him, in the finest Liberal tradition, to talk about change during an upcoming campaign, and then to implement right-wing-style cuts to social programs like EI upon taking office, should Canada be so unfortunate.

    By the way, I hope you’re not implying that being on welfare is “milking the system.”

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