Budget problems galore, but Liberals do nothing

Posted in Canada, Politics by cimmetry on January 28, 2009

Watching Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff at the podium this morning, listing off the many deficiencies of the Conservative budget that was introduced yesterday, had me feeling very hopeful about the amendment that they would propose. But I was astonished when it became clear that the amendment was empty of any meaningful action.

Instead of making Employment Insurance eligibility uniform across the country, demanding funding for additional child care spaces, or cancelling the paltry but costly cuts to personal income taxes, the Liberal amendment asks the Conservatives to provide a bunch of progress reports. Huh?

Mr Ignatieff claims this is all part of holding the Conservatives to account — ensuring that they do what they say they are going to do in the budget. But who cares about holding them to account over a flawed budget? More importantly, why can’t the amendment also include measures that actually fix the budget?

I am left confused, disappointed and feeling somewhat betrayed. I can only cling to the hope that I have missed something here; perhaps there is some master strategy that has yet to reveal itself. 

Is this a way for the Liberals to exit the coalition? Perhaps they worry that if the Conservatives rejected a beefed up amendment, they might actually have to govern with the NDP. Maybe they are working on a shiny new budget-based platform and will seek to defeat the Conservatives in March. Or is it just that, while they are great at criticising the Conservative budget, they are unable or too afraid to propose any better solutions?

I wonder.