Monday, June 15, 2009

Harper willing to talk with Ignatieff to avoid election

Not a big surprise:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he is willing to meet Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to discuss his demands to avoid triggering a summer election, including further changes to the country's employment insurance system.

But Harper insisted Ignatieff was not taking a "realistic approach," saying major changes to EI "cannot be done on the back of an envelope in a few days."

He instead called for "dialogue" with Ignatieff over the summer on potential EI changes to be introduced in the fall.

“Mr. Ignatieff said he doesn’t want an election,” Harper told reporters Monday afternoon at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa.

“I don’t want an election. I don’t think anybody wants an election.”

He's right about that, of course; few people in this country want another election right now. So it's a reasonably safe bet that Harper and/or Ignatieff will compromise on this position. Hopefully this will result from Harper backing down, rather than Ignatieff.

When you think about it, Jack Layton wasn't far wrong when he said this:

"We have a new coalition now on Parliament Hill -- it's a coalition between Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff," Layton said shortly after Ignatieff announced his conditional support for the Tory budget.

He's not the first person to say this, of course; I seem to recall a columnist saying the same thing a couple of years before, because of the number of times the Liberals supported the Tories on confidence votes. That's not to say I want an election right now either, but I do hope Ignatieff doesn't sell his support too cheaply. (Yes, I know that strictly speaking it's not a coalition, since the Liberals didn't get any cabinet seats, but the effect is pretty similar).

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