VANCOUVER – The federal Liberals are going to be ready to plunge the country into an election by June if Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government doesn't make it much easier for jobless Canadians to get employment insurance benefits.
Michael Ignatieff, newly confirmed as Liberal leader this weekend, said his party is calling for an "urgent," temporary fix to the EI program, which would extend benefits to those who have worked 360 hours in the previous 52 weeks.
"I'm trying to protect these unemployed workers across the country who badly need help and if the government will work with me, we can get it done," Ignatieff said. "If they won't, we'll have to have an election."
The Liberal party is now at work on a broad platform for the party – based on Canada as a "knowledge society" – that will be ready for June, says Ignatieff. The most immediate priority, however, is EI.
I am not suggesting EI reform is necessarily a bad thing but it’s not a burning issue nor necessarily an issue to dissolve parliament over. The government is working and in this time of economic uncertainty, I am not so sure an election and another 300 million spent by the Feds for an election is the most prudent use of the public purse. Especially in light of the fact your burning issue is ‘EI’ reform which would entail the government shelling out even more. For those Canadians ineligible under current rules, EI reform and a six week election will not help them soon enough.
But what the hell do I know? I am just some schmuck toiling away in the hopes that after putting in a week’s worth of labour the taxman will leave me enough to care for my family and pay our bills. All I can say is good luck to the Liberals - for if this is their strategy, most of us who are still employed, will probably be too busy working to pay much attention to their ‘burning’ issues. And sure, let’s have election in the middle of the summer…