The agreement between New Democrats and Liberals to Protect Canada’s economyUncategorized
Last week, Members of Parliament took their seats in the House of Commons to hear the Minister of Finance present an economic update – an eagerly-anticipated Canadian response to global economic instability.
An hour later, opposition MPs, elected by more than 62 per cent of Canadians who cast a ballot on October 14, experienced a period of stunned disbelief.
Where was the economy in the economic package? Instead of actions that would have helped create jobs that Canadians need, the update was an ideological attack on such hard-won victories as wage equity and the right to strike. It offered a fire sale of public assets and was a disappointing failure to act on the economic crisis.
A good leader tries to embody values that represent the diversity of Canada, rather than narrow partisan interests. Less than two months after a federal election, Stephen Harper showed a profound lack of leadership, and of the good judgment we expect in a prime minister. It has become apparent that he refuses to acknowledge that he leads a minority government and chooses to ignore the importance of the opposition in the British parliamentary system.
If there is an affront to democracy, it is in the Prime Minister’s denial of the importance of fostering cooperation with those who hold diverging viewpoints.
Far from a political power game or a coup d’état as the Conservatives claim, the actions of the opposition parties stem from the rules of our parliamentary democracy and offer an appropriate response to Mr. Harper’s inaction. Despite Conservative fear-mongering, the agreement signed on Monday is a joint effort by New Democrats and Liberals–that is entirely within the bounds of our democracy–to address the economic crisis facing Canadians.
It proposes investments in essential infrastructure like light-rail transit; in housing and building retrofits; in clean energy; and in clean water – investments municipalities have been clamouring for –both to address perennial funding shortfalls and to kick-start the economy by creating the jobs desperately needed in so many of our communities.
In this agreement, New Democrats, Liberals and Greens have, despite our differences, found common ground based on economic priorities that serve the interests of Canadians. The Bloc Québecois has pledged its support on economic issues (as it supported Mr. Harper’s budgets in 2006-2007), but will be excluded from government.
The agreement is effective until June 2010 and will provide stability to the new governing coalition and–in the absence of a plan by government–to meet the needs of Canadian citizens and communities.
In the US, 52% of Americans voted for Barack Obama and got change. In our country, 62% of Canadians voted for someone other than Stephen Harper, and got no change. That’s the way our system works; at least for as long as the minority government can maintain the confidence of the House. That confidence was lost as a result of the government’s inaction on the economy. Canadians had hoped for more. I am confident that the coalition will deliver.