Thursday, May 1, 2008

Another Broken Harper Promise

In the "Our principles no longer apply to us" files, we have this for you good readers today:

2006: The Conservative Party makes a promise to the people of Canada in order to improve our democracy: Make all votes in Parliament, except the budget and main estimates, “free votes” for ordinary Members of Parliament.

Source: Page 44 of the 2006 Conservative Party Election Platform (you know, the one Canadians elected them on).

2008: The Conservative Party breaks a promise to the people of Canada in order to keep their firm grip on power:Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is declaring film tax-credit legislation a matter of confidence in the Conservative government, meaning MPs could land on Canadian doorsteps this spring to debate the line between art and pornography.

It seems principles for the Conservatives are something to be used in order to get elected, but not to govern.

(h/t TB)


Peter Loewen said...

A tax credit is a budget item. No promise broken there.

Ted said...


Two points:

1. The promise related to votes on budgets, not votes on matters that involved budget items. All spending is a budget item. That interpretation renders the promise utterly meaningless.

2. Bill C-10 doesn't even change the budget item. No more or less money is going to be spent. The bill allows the government more say in who gets it. So it there is no way this is even a budget item.

Peter Loewen said...

1.) Not all government bills involve spending and taxes. So, you could exclude these and have lots of other free votes.
2.) I don't get this point. The government is changing who gets money. This is spending. It's like suggesting that a change in the provincial distribution of money isn't a budget item as long as the budget is the same size.

Jim may have lots of good examples of broken promises, but this isn't one.

PS Nice to know you're still alive.

Ted said...

The point is that the promise was specific: we will have free votes on everything except in two instances: votes on "budgets" and votes on "estimates".

This bill is neither a budget nor an estimate. That's the broken promise right there.

They try to skirt the issue by saying that when they said "budget" what they really meant was anything that involves spending or a budget item. What doesn't involve spending? That renders the promise utterly meaningless because no act of Parliament or action of government doesn't involve some kind of spending.

As for "budget item": this does not even involve a budget item. The budget does not say $50K to film X or $1M to film Y. The "budget item" for this says $50M to films and then delegates the responsibility to department to apportion in accordance with the established rules. More to the point, this bill deals with "who" gets to decide who gets funding and on what basis; it is not in any way about how much. So it is bending the meaning of budget item past the breaking point to read this act as a budget item.

Which is all entirely beside the point since that is not what the platform promises.

Once the budget item is approved, which it has been, how can the allocation of the budget item be a confidence issue in the government?

Stepping back and being objective, if anyone had asked - or more accurately, been allowed to ask - Harper in 2006 if a bill on who gets to decide what films get money and what films don't, do you really believe he would have said that was a confidence motion? in the entire government?

It is such a fundamental flip flop. Peter, there is not even a technical way to read this to escape this one for them.

Ted said...

Oh and P.S. Right back: hope all is well with you.