My new blogging colleague Brian Topp uses his first post today (in what promises to be a wonderful addition to this page) to make the argument that "Just possibly, today's EI reform package might be evidence" that Harper and Layton are prepared to cut a deal and make parliament work for all, whatever that means.
Now that we see the text of Friday's ways-and-means motion, it turns out that in order to support Harper's government, the NDP will also need to support the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
Never going to happen, right? No way the NDP would sell out on such a core issue of principle, you say?
Well, there is at least one report that the NDP doesn't see this as a poison pill and will still support Friday's motion. (And to be clear, I have no problem with the free trade agreement and think, as you will see below, the NDP and the labour movement's rhetoric on it has been completely over the top).
If you wanted any more evidence that Stephen Harper wants an election right now, look no further. Let's take a quick stroll through google to see what the NDP has said about the Colombia Free Trade agreement to date:
NDP trade critic Peter Julian:
"More than 1,500 peasants have been massacred so far by the Colombia military as so-called "false positives"; no less than the cold-blooded murder of innocent people. Incredibly, the Conservative government is pressing ahead wir ith a Bush-style free trade agreement with the regime. What is more incredible is that the Leader of the Opposition is supporting this trampling of human rights in the name of powerful corporate interests. The NDP is standing on the side of millions of Canadians who oppose murder, torture and human rights abuses. We oppose the blood that is on this agreement"
I guess the NDP are no longer standing on the side of the "millions of Canadians who oppose murder, torture and human rights abuses", right Peter?
NDP MP Chris Charlton :
"Colombia has one of the worst human rights records in the western hemisphere, with dozens of labour activists and human rights advocates killed each year. They are outraged by the kill-a-worker-pay-a-fine provisions, which make a mockery of human rights. Since the Conservative government has not done due diligence in this regard, the petitioners call on Parliament to reject the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement until an independent human rights impact assessment has been done and the resulting concerns have been addressed."
I guess the "kill-a-worker-pay-a-fine" provision isn't that outrageous after all, eh, Chris?
And last, but not least, NDP Leader Jack Layton in his own unique style:
Update So the NDP are rationalizing their support for the ways-and-means motion by stating something along the lines of "these are only technical amendments to the Columbia FTA, that won't come until affect until the Act itself is proclaimed. We of course still oppose the agreement itself but these are nothing but technical amendments so what's the big deal if we support it, given the massive, massive EI concessions we wrestled away from the government." (Sarcasm fully intended).
Whatever helps you sleep at night.