Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Where are the Greens?

Some people are dubbing the recent climate change confidence motion, put forward by the NDP, as an attempt to trap the Liberals on an issue they want to own. It's hard to argue that this wasn't at least one of the origins of the motion, but it's equally hard to argue that the Liberals shouldn't have been able to vote for the text of the motion without even thinking. And the fact that they refused to do so has been cause for plenty of criticism among Liberal bloggers, to their great credit.

Perhaps understandably, the more high-profile Liberals haven't been quite so candid. But it's more than just Liberal MPs and candidates who have been silent on this issue--the Green Party of Canada has also been completely mum, despite the environment being their raison d'être. There's been no official statement from Green leader Elizabeth May on the subject of this motion, and there's nothing at all about it on the party website. And if you don't think that sounds at least a little bit strange, just imagine for a moment how different things would have been if the roles had been reversed. If the Liberals had put forward a confidence motion about the Conservatives' poor record on climate change, and the NDP had abstained on it, can you imagine for one second that the Greens wouldn't have been all over it? "Parliamentary games" or no?

The point of this post is bigger than a New Democrat whining about how the Greens attack the NDP while sparing the Liberals, though, so I'll cut to the chase. Both Stéphane Dion and Elizabeth May have been utterly insistent that their non-compete pact is limited to each of them not running in the other's riding. If that's the case, then, why on earth is the Green Party so silent on this matter? I can understand that they wouldn't want to help the NDP, but an election fought on climate change would arguably have benefitted them far more than the NDP anyway. I've been racking my brain trying to think of a reason why they wouldn't want to address this, and the only thing I can come up with is that they don't want to damage the Liberals. Which is very odd behaviour for what is ostensibly a completely separate political party trying to compete with the Liberals.

I have no proof that there's anything hinky going on, of course, but it makes me wonder. And I can't help but think about how all the former Liberal voters who are now turning to the Greens are going to feel if it turns out the two-riding non-compete pact really was a prelude to something a whole lot bigger.

27 comments:

Wiley T said...

Great, insightful post. If anything could ever confirm the total irrelevance of the seatless wonders, its that they'll take a pass to save the political ass of Canada's worst ever do-nothing environment minister, Stéphane Dion.

And they accuse the NDP of irrelevance! If opposing Harper's destructive agenda is irrelevant and prostrating oneself before the neocons is relevant, the choice is easy for most progressive voters.

My only complaint is that you treat Central Nova Liberal candidate Elizabeth May and her cynical (if ineffective) attack dog Jim Harris too charitably. Let's recap:

Total silence on the NDP motion expressing no confidence in the same Harper environmental policy they spend their entire life rightly bashing.

Regular, illogical and false attacks on the NDP by Jim Harris on the party's website even as they call for a new cooperation among left-leaning parties.

Silence on the Liberals' painful abstention from all constitutional responsibilities of the official opposition. A silence which even the hyper-partisan Toronto Star is now frustrated with.

As for May herself, remember that in 2004 as Sierra Club head she called for a Liberal Majority.

In 2006 as part of the Think Twice Coalition she called for a Liberal Majority.

Even as leader of a (supposedly) rival party, she openly campaigns for the inept leader of the official opposition and calls for a Liberal Majority.

She wants to participate in a leaders' debate intended to showcase the people who aspire to be Prime Minister, but believes one of her rivals is bar-none, hands-down the only man for the job and openly says so. Canadian politics needs a lot of things, but not a spineless parrot in a leaders debate.

The decision to exclude her has nothing to do with ideology, gender, or even official party status. Rather it’s the result of a simple one-seat rule and the fact that she already calls for another man to take the top job. Can Harper, Layton, and Duceppe have someone advocating their premiership participate as well? The suggestion is of course farcical. Tell Audrey McLaughlin, Alexa McDunnough, and former PM Kim Campbell that its because May is a woman.

Confident prediction: Dion will cynically call for her participation despite the clear rules and then claim even more cynically that the NDP, Bloc, and Cons are anti-women. It’s the obvious next move.

Consider the Greens and Liberals officially merged. According the May/Harris brain trust they love the LPC because... they want the party of 35% carbon emissions increases and zero hard-caps for industry to regain the helm?

The Liberals won’t betray the seatless wonder once in power! They wouldn’t! Right. Those familiar with the NDP’s repeated past attempts at meaningful, sustained political cooperation with the Liberals will recognize this move for what it is: a downright suicidal maneuver. The trusting Greens will invariably face complete assimilation or oblivion; and it won’t be the Tories who precipitate either.

The party which most needs democratic reform in bed with the party whose vested interests dictate resistance to change by any means necessary, and voted TO KILL AN NDP MOTION RESTARTING THE PROCESS OF ELECOTRAL REFORM. Seldom has a movement founded amidst such genuine idealism been so openly abused by its own leadership on behalf of a rival so diametrically opposed to their political values!

Greens need to wake up and smell Madame May’s poison koolaid!

Blogging Horse said...

Yours is a good point.

If Dion and May are to be taken at their words the backroom deal between them was about 1) the utter urgency for action on climate change and 2) the need to be rid of Harper.

The NDP's motion offered both, yet Liberals abstained on both.

If May is sincere she should at least publicly denounce the betrayal and at most dissolve the pact.

A more likely explianation comes from Andrew Coyne and some Greens - which is that the May/Dion pact is an entirely insincere political ploy to help the Liberals by outflanking the NDP in an election.

Therefore the pact must live, GHGs or even defeating Harper be damned.

Saskboy said...

Good post, I too have been wondering for a week where their email about Cadscam has been, among other things. I'll have to needle them a bit. Perhaps they are distracted by the byelection efforts, but still that should be MORE reason to be putting out partisan press releases.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Saskboy,

Oh, there have been plenty of official Green Party press releases in the last couple of days. Here's one about Columbia kidnap victims and another about the budget, both from yesterday, and there's one from today about tar sands regulations. This isn't about being busy, sorry. But yeah, go ahead and needle them--somebody ought to.

Jim Johnston said...

First, let me compliment you on your blog. I read your blog regularly and with appreciation. I believe we need more people in Canada to stand up for what they believe in.

I can't speak for the Green Party, but as a Green Party candidate, I will offer you my thoughts on your post. If I understand correctly, you are asking why the Greens are silent on the NDP environmental non-confidence motion, and inferring from the silence there is a greater conspiracy going on between the Liberals and the Green Party.

Your question is a good one. A quick look at the Green Party website will show you that we issued two press releases this week concerning the utter inadequacy of the Harper government's environmental plan. In that way, we are in complete agreement with the NDP motion, and I believe I can fairly say that if we were in the house, we would have supported the motion. Outside of the house, our focus has been on the government and its policies (and lack thereof).

We have generally not commented on every confidence motion that has come before the house (and there have been a lot lately). In fact, most parties do not comment on these kinds of bills. For example, this week, the private members bill to make RESP contributions tax deductible was a huge success for the combined opposition. I have a great deal of respect for the NDP and I believe that they have an important role to play. Yet, this private member's bill warranted no mention from the NDP or BQ that I have seen. This might be seen as surprising, given the importance that the NDP places on affordable, accessible education.

I say this not to be critical of the NDP, but rather to cite as an example that the absence of applause for this success does not diminish the value or worth of the NDP as a political party, nor the party's commitment to education. Similarly, I believe that the Green Party's absence of specific communication on the non-confidence motion does not diminish their commitment to the environment nor to good governance.

I can understand why you might believe this is quite different, because, as you said, you believe that the environment is the Green Party's raison d'être. However, I disagree with that narrow assessment, and I believe that if you were to spend some time looking at Vision Green (all 160 pages of which can be downloaded from our site), you would see that we are concerned with a lot more than just the environment. For example, my first attraction to the Green Party was its commitment to participatory democracy. Imho, if we had a better representation system, then parties would not be able to play as many of the games that they do now. and the kinds of strategic parliamentary voting that we see now could be avoided.

As to the conspiracy, I can say confidently that to the very best of my knowledge, there is nothing more to the non-compete pact than was publicly announced a long time ago. Elizabeth May is my close and trusted friend, and our goal is to form the government in this country as the Green Party of Canada. We will do that by demonstrating our values and a new way of doing politics.

Should the Green Party denounce the Liberal's obsession with deferring an election? Maybe that would make a difference, but I doubt it. I do not think that constantly running down other parties serves Canadians well. Canadians already know the score. I am as disappointed in our government and in our elected members as much as anyone can be. Parliament is a standoff waiting for someone to do something vile enough or fantastic enough to swing the polls enough to make it worthwhile for someone to pull the trigger and have an election. This is not democracy in action, but rather, a poker game being played with our money and our future. We deserve better. All of us. This is a time when we need true leadership and vision, not bullying, cowardice and manipulation.

Jim Johnston,
Green Party Candidate,
Lambton-Kent-Middlesex

janfromthebruce said...

"A more likely explianation comes from Andrew Coyne and some Greens - which is that the May/Dion pact is an entirely insincere political ploy to help the Liberals by outflanking the NDP in an election."

And that's politics and the environment be damned.

janfromthebruce said...

Forgot to add: great post and super analysis.

Green Assassin Brigade said...

Unlike my beliefs I find most of my fellow Greens have a resonable amount of respect for the NDP ideals but not Jack. I don't buy the Liberal/Green plot thing. If there is a problem it's May honestly likes Dion too much to kick him in the head like he deserves.

Also I would not worry about what Harris says it gets read on the blog but never gets picked up by the press. Hell most of our leaders press releases don't get picked up by the press, so why would they publicize Harris's more antagonistic stuff.

I too find the press release thing a little "hinky" as someone said.

It seems one story is in the press and big on the Hill and suddenly we get a press release that seems like a non sequitor(spelling?) coming out of the green party. I think our lack of a seat sometimes allows us to focus on different topics without forcing us to get involved in the petty crap going on. Partly it's an attempt to not be seen as more of the same, trying to find off the beaten track issues to raise as an attempt to show our uniqueness. Such as May's latching on to the topic of the last budget opening the doors to privatize national parks. Yikes!

Not that this is always right, I think we should have had strong statements on Cadman, the Budget, the new carbon sequestering bill, the Liberal screwing around and hiding from an election, and the most recent climate change motion.

I wish an election would be called, I'd like to see if May takes the gloves off once she knows Dion can't reneg on their deal.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Jim,

Thanks for your thoughts. I have to say, though, I really don't buy your explanation.

For one thing, it's quite possible to criticize other parties, their actions, and their platforms without "constantly running them down." That's how parties make themselves distinct from the others even when they're taking the high road--they state outright what they disagree with. For another, the Greens have had no trouble at all criticizing the Conservatives (or even "running them down"), and the same is true with the NDP. It's only the Liberals they refrain from criticizing. In fact, I've looked, and I haven't found a single public statement from May that criticizes anything the Liberals have done at all. If you have alternate data, I'd be happy to hear it, but so far, nothing.

Now, there are two possible explanations for this that I can think of. One, the Greens and the Liberals have an agreement, whether official or unofficial, not to criticize each other even when they disagree. Two, the Greens actually agree with everything the Liberals have come up with on policy, and everything the Liberals are doing in the House, right down to their many abstentions. Can you think of a third?

GAB,

If there is a problem it's May honestly likes Dion too much to kick him in the head like he deserves.

So you're saying it's not an actual deal per se, but a genuine personal desire on May's part to prop up Dion's sagging party? That's kind of awful, if it's true. If I were a Green, I would want to know my leader was going to fight as hard as she could for my party and my party's ideas, not defer to someone else.

Are the two parties different enough to maintain separate identities, in your eyes? What do you see as the main distinctions?

catherine said...

It strikes me that the Green Party, beyond simply wanting to promote its own values and goals, has decided Harper is its primary target. Clearly, Harper is the primary target of the Liberals too, since they want to replace him. The primary target of the NDP does not appear to be Harper. [Perhaps the Liberals and Conservatives are considered equal targets, perhaps the Liberals somewhat more.] I think it is this key difference which explains a lot of the statements and moves of the various parties.

I am only aware of the Green Party criticizing the NDP when they think some action or words of the NDP plays into Harper's hand. However, I could easily have missed something and perhaps you have counterexamples.

The Green Party is certainly interesting. I know long-time Conservative and NDP supporters who plan to vote Green. From various blogs, it seems disenfranchised Liberals will vote Green as well. All these people certainly see it as distinct from the Liberals, or any other party for that matter.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

catherine,

Oh, it's certainly clear to me that potential Green voters see themselves as distinct from the Liberals. It's much less clear that they actually are distinct, though. I actually suspect this blurring of the lines would unnerve a lot of potential Green voters if they were paying more attention, because they want the Greens to be something new, something better.

Your point is taken that the Greens only attack the NDP when "they think some action or words of the NDP plays into Harper's hand." But the thing is, nobody's playing into Harper's hand right now more than the Liberals. Where was the Green criticism of the Harper-Dion alliance on Afghanistan, for example? As far as I know, the Greens have a rather different position on that than what the two big parties came up with. And I still say that if the roles in the climate change motion had been reversed, with the NDP abstaining on a Liberal confidence motion that would have forced an election on the environment, the Greens would have been all over the NDP.

catherine said...

I really don't know what to make of Afghanistan. My Dutch friends, who are typically anti-war and vote for the left-socialist parties, tried to explain to me why they supported their government's extension of the mission and I have been confused ever since.

If one takes the NDP motion at face value of course it is outrageous that it wasn't supported by the Liberals and I am sure the Green Party would agree. The problem is that many can't take it at face value because it was not simply a motion, it was a confidence motion. Had the Liberals all supported it, we would be having a federal election. Perhaps that would be good, perhaps it would be bad (for those of us who want a government to actually do something positive and effective about the environment, as well as other issues.) On that level, it is not so obvious or black and white.

I personally supported the timing of the last federal election which was in the hands of the opposition parties and I don't like what we ended up with. This time around, I don't know which opposition parties, if any, hold the key to reasoned and wise election timing, and without that knowledge, I am not going to criticize the Liberals.

As I've said previously, I see noteable parallels between the Harper Conservatives and the Mike Harris Conservatives, and consider them to be formidable opponents. Harris shifted Ontario to the right in a way which will effect us for at least a couple decades. Harper has already shifted Canada to the right and unless the opposition parties have an incredibly focussed and clever plan, I am not optimistic. I am certainly in no position to know whether the Liberals have a plan. Superficially, it sure seems like they don't. I do get some inklings that they recognize the challenge, and that is a start. I think May recognizes the challenge as well. I am sorry to say that I don't see the same in Layton. Perhaps I am wrong about that.

Anonymous said...

From the globe today but subscriber content only.


Giving the Tories a free ride doesn't help cut emissions
LAWRENCE MARTIN

March 12, 2008 at 3:44 AM EDT

When Stéphane Dion's political sidekick, Elizabeth May, takes a run at him, you know things aren't getting much easier for the harassed Liberal Leader.

Why, the queen of the Greens wondered, was Mr. Dion silent at this week's unveiling of the Harper government's somewhat feckless climate-change regulations?

"Dion not asking questions about it just doesn't make sense," said Ms. May, who entered into a semi-alliance with the Grits last year. Given the Conservatives' halting performance, she said, it's a disaster if the Liberals go soft on the issue.

Mr. Dion passed up Baird-baiting opportunities both Monday and yesterday, opting instead for repetitive questions on the Chuck Cadman affair.

Criticized for being a one-trick green pony, as he was last year, Mr. Dion has now gone too far in the other direction. The week also saw his Liberals vote with the government against an NDP motion condemning alleged Tory climate-change inaction.

Using the threat of an election, the Conservatives continue to get a free ride. What makes good politics takes precedence - and what else is new in Bytown? - over what makes good policy.

Environment Minister John Baird, never one to shy from hyperbole, has touted his scheme as wondrous in every respect. But put down your pompoms, John - it amounts to a middling plan to meet a middling target.

That his Conservatives weren't overly delighted with it was signalled by the manner in which they trotted it out. Mr. Baird didn't submit himself to a press conference, just a scrum. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was out of town. There were no details, no technical briefings. An impact and adaptation report was released Friday evening to avoid major media notice. The regulations plan itself was leaked on Sunday.

We recall 10 months ago when the Baird climate-change plan was leaked. The Conservatives were so angered that an Environment Canada staffer was arrested. "Kind of strange," cracked Dion spokeswoman Leslie Swartman, "that they didn't slap the handcuffs on Baird this time - like they did to that other poor fellow."

Mr. Baird's regulations are to meet emissions targets set against the lenient base year of 2006. The proposals offer intensity-based targets rather than absolute reductions in gas emissions. They aim at regulating 17 key industrial sectors, but for details we have to wait months and months - this after waiting almost a year since the climate-change plan was first unveiled. They aim at eliminating dirty coal power generation. Sounds impressive, but no big deal on viewing the fine print.

The whole plan bets heavily on carbon capture and storage, which "may or may not work," Ms. May said. Of course, the big anti-emission weapon, the carbon tax, was not brought to the table. "I met with Baird once to suggest they should move to a carbon tax," the Green Leader recalled. "He literally laughed in my face. He didn't say it wouldn't work. He said you campaign on that and you lose."

Ms. May should be feeling good about the lack of concerted action by the big-shot parties. It opens the doors for her flock, and for the New Democrats. Deputy NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, never one to strangle his words, lowered the boom on the Environment Minister. "It's pathetic," he said. "I've rarely seen anything so superficial. But then again, it's coming from Baird."

As for Mr. Dion, one reason he is not so assertive on his favourite issue is that, as he noted, he has too many other government scandals to choose from. Another, however, is that every time he hammers the Conservatives on the green file, they need only point back at his party's own record and start chuckling.

Chuckles all around this week. A newspaper obtained a memorandum from 2006 showing that Environment Canada put before the newly anointed government a plan for a climate agency that could bring about "cost-effective transformational change." It was killed by the Conservatives in favour of the approach of choice: Go slow.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

catherine,

Oh, the Liberals have a plan, all right--"bide our time until the country is ready to vote for us again." It's really annoying for people like me who believe votes need to be earned through presentation of strong policies.

I'm really not seeing what anything you said has to do with whether or not the Greens should be criticizing the Liberals when they disagree, though. Let me put this question to you: do you really think that if the roles in the climate change confidence motion had been reversed, the Greens would not have been criticizing the NDP?

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

anon,

Good catch! It's encouraging to see May acting like the leader of a separate political party for once.

It's still notable, though, that she's only criticizing Dion for not asking questions about the Harper environment plan. There are many things the Liberals are currently supporting that she and her party ostensibly disagree with, which are going uncommented. In fact, her willingness to comment on the lack of questions makes her silence on the Liberals' lack of support on the climate change motion all the more deafening.

catherine said...

IP, to answer your direct question. YES. I think if the Liberals put forward a confidence motion on the environment and the NDP did not support it, the Green Party would be speaking out against the NDP action.

However, I think May recognizes that there is no symmetry between the LPC and NDP when it comes to confidence motions and forcing an election. If the LPC is not ready to fight an election (for whatever reason) then we are guaranteed to return a Harper government. If the NDP is not ready to fight an election, we may or may not return Harper, depending on the success of the LPC.

May has made it clear she does not want another Harper government. Layton seems to be aiming to be the official opposition, but it is not clear that he cares which party he opposes. They have different visions for Canada even looking beyond their specific party platforms.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

catherine,

Let me put this as clearly as I possibly can.

Leading a political party is about putting forward your party's vision for the country's future. Presumably, that vision is different from the visions of all other political parties, or else there would be no need to be a separate political party in the first place. Presenting that vision, then, is a matter of arguing with all political parties in the areas where your vision is different from theirs. It's about saying "this is what we're about, and this is how we're different from each of those other guys." This is part and parcel of the job of being a party's leader, and when you don't do that, you're falling down on the job.

Now, I find your attitude that the Liberals deserve to be elected next time around simply by virtue of not being Harper frustrating. But I can understand it, coming from you. You are a Liberal voter. But if Elizabeth May--the leader of a completely separate political party--takes the same attitude, it is inconscionable. And to do that when the party she's deferring to is doing nothing but twiddling their thumbs is nothing short of abdicating her role as party leader.

Josh Gould said...

Layton seems to be aiming to be the official opposition, but it is not clear that he cares which party he opposes.

On the contrary, Layton is playing the part of the official opposition right now, something the Liberals are unable to do. If the Liberals don't think they can win an election, then they probably can't - such beliefs tend to become self-fulfilling.

On the other hand, it's unlikely that, however the next election goes, there will be a single-party majority as a result. Harper's position will be significantly weakened in his own party if he can't "deliver". In the meantime, the only way of keeping a minority government in check it to, you know, occasionally threaten to bring it down if it doesn't cooperate. Correspondingly, if it is implicated in a variety of troubling scandals (Chalk River, "Cadscam", the NAFTA leak, and a whole host of other issues), a responsible opposition party will hold the government to account by voting for a non-confidence motion.

I see no reason for delaying that apart from the Liberals' perceived strategic weakness. They've now had over two years to rebuild. What's the hold up? And if they don't know what they stand for (apart from being the "governing party"), maybe they should simply make way for those that do. I'm pleased to say May send some criticism in the Liberals' direction. It's not enough - they are the ones keeping Canadians from at least attempting to vote out the Tories. For my part, it's something I've wanted to help with for a year or more.

catherine said...

But I can understand it, coming from you. You are a Liberal voter.

Well, I can't really call myself a Liberal voter, but I do hope to be when there is an election. I supported the NDP until about a year ago, when the combination of Harper and Layton changed my outlook. I like a lot of things I've seen in the Liberal platform, but, yes, the fact that they have the potential to displace Harper is a huge plus in my books.

I can't speak for May except that some communication did lead me to believe that we share a recognition of what Harper means and could mean for Canada. Clearly, you and I see things differently about the NDP motion and I am speculating that May may see things more similarly to me (just speculation, though).

On confidence votes, I see the election trigger as a bigger factor than the content of the motion itself. No matter what the content is, the number of votes determine whether the country dives into a federal election. How can one ignore that?

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

catherine,

I think we're talking past each other at this point, so this is going to be my last response to you in this particular conversation. But can you not see that when you promote the idea that things like policy, behaviour in Parliament, and even competence are all subordinate to Getting Rid of Harper At All Costs, you're becoming one of the reasons why the Liberals are still so screwed up? They're never going to get any better as long as people are willing to vote for them by rote. No party deserves to form government simply by virtue of being a big-tent party that's not associated with Stephen Harper. It should be harder than that.

Regardless of my beefs with you about this, though, it's really Elizabeth May taking the same stance that I find so troublesome. She's simply not behaving like the leader of a political party.

clh said...

IP, I agree to disagree, but since your last post makes assumptions about me which I don't accept, I can't let it pass without one more try.

What you see as "at all costs", I don't. All I read into the current actions of the Liberals is that they don't want an election now. Whether that is because of their own disorganization or because of a plan, either way, I do not consider this fact a deal breaker. My positive view of the Liberals is based on what I think my local candidate and Dion believe in (I have met both) and the recent votes haven't changed my impression.

I am not trying to convince you of anything. I simply feel you have not understood where I am coming from, and perhaps, I will be unable to convey that here. The ironic thing is I have sometimes voted by rote and not for the Liberals. This time, I'm fully engaged, just in a different way than you are.

catherine - clh said...

IP, that's me, Catherine, under initials, which I've switched to, but I started here a while back under Catherine. Guess I blew that cover!

bza said...

"Layton seems to be aiming to be the official opposition"

Just a small response to this phrase, as I hear a lot of people saying it. At the 2006 NDP Convention in Quebec City, Layton in his keynote adress made it an official goal of the party to lay out policies and a plan to show what an NDP government would do if elected.

Its fair enough to criticize that his goal is just to be the official opposition. But I thought I would just point out that forming a government is a main policy objective and strategy outlined by the party since the NDP message is that it already views itself as either the "effective opposition" or as the real official opposition.

Guy said...

In response to Jim Johnston, who said:

We have generally not commented on every confidence motion that has come before the house (and there have been a lot lately). In fact, most parties do not comment on these kinds of bills. For example, this week, the private members bill to make RESP contributions tax deductible was a huge success for the combined opposition. I have a great deal of respect for the NDP and I believe that they have an important role to play. Yet, this private member's bill warranted no mention from the NDP or BQ that I have seen. This might be seen as surprising, given the importance that the NDP places on affordable, accessible education.

Looks to me that unlike the Liberals, the NDP has done its job of consulting with the stakeholders:

Students and Faculty Call on MPs from all Parties to Defeat RESP Bill

OTTAWA, March 13 /CNW/ - Students and faculty are united in condemning proposed changes to the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Liberal MP Dan McTeague's bill to increase permissible RESP contributions and make them tax deductible will do little to make post-secondary education more accessible for most students and their families.

"This bill is a bad use of scarce resources and it will cost about $1-billion a year." said Amanda Aziz, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. "Reducing tuition fees and increasing need-based grants would be a far more equitable way of providing assistance to students."

Recent research from Statistics Canada suggests that families earning over $80,000 per year are the prime beneficiaries of the current program.

Under the proposed changes, the yearly contribution limit will be raised to $5,000 from $2,000 and the amount will be tax deductible.

According to Aziz, wealthier families will be the primary beneficiaries of the changes.

James Turk, the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, also criticised the proposed bill.

"We need an increase in core funding for colleges and universities and a renewed investment in basic research through the granting councils," Turk said. "It is very disappointing to see that all of the opposition parties voted for this ill-conceived bill, and we will work with students and other partners to see that it is defeated."

CAUT and CFS will be joining forces to lobby against the bill in the Senate as well as urging support for a provision in the Ways and Means section of the Budget Implementation Act that voids the bill.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers represents over 57,000 academic staff at Canadian colleges and universities.

Founded in 1981, the Canadian Federation of Students is Canada's largest student organisation, uniting more than one-half million students from ten provinces.

Jim Johnston said...

To guy:

Thanks for responding to my post. I am not sure I understand your point, though. You have said that the NDP, (who supported the RESP bill) have consulted with their constituency, and then quote an article which says the bill is bad news. That would seem to be a contradiction, but I am open to another interpretation.

Today, the Conservatives and the Liberals together put the thing to death, even though the Liberals supported it last time.

I used to work with an American who used the expression "having skin on the line", distinguishing people that have a vested interest in outcome, whether through money, time, reputation, etc. He would not work with people in a particular project until they had some skin on the line, ie. they were committed to this project through the risk of loss.

It appears that for the Liberal Party, when a confidence motion is in front of them, their "skin" is attached to political survival, rather than the best possible policy outcome for Canadians.

This is the epitome of "old school" politics. Count me as one of the disgusted.

Josh Gould said...

Today, the Conservatives and the Liberals together put the thing to death, even though the Liberals supported it last time.

I'm no fan of the Liberals lately, but for a putative Green Party candidate, you seem not to understand the difference between first and third reading of a bill.

Jim Johnston said...

I'm no fan of the Liberals lately, but for a putative Green Party candidate, you seem not to understand the difference between first and third reading of a bill.

Now that the implementation is a confidence motion as part of the ways and means bill, the Liberal have shown that they will not support it. Even if they do extremely well in the by-elections, rediscover their spines and vote against it later, it will trigger an election. Either way, Canadians will not be deducting RESP contributions from their income tax any time soon.

Of course, if someone finds a way to make it law, I will be most happy to post a retraction of my assessment.

Josh, I noticed from your blogger profile that we went to the same school. I did my undergraduate degree at Waterloo and my MBA down the street at WLU. Hope you enjoyed your time there.