February 12, 2006

NDP's Child-Care Act Proposal is Smart Politics

Last Thursday it was announced that the NDP will introduce a National Child-Care Act shortly after the House reconvenes in April. If anything, people should not be overly surprised by this bold move. The current manifestation of the NDP became quite confident with itself during the last minority government. And it would seem that Canadians' confidence in the party has also grown and granted the NDP more votes and seats in the recent election. Making the bold move of the Child-Care Act is essentially an extension of that. However, some Conservatives and others probably believe this latest move by the NDP borders on arrogance and an over-stepping of their mandate in the House. In reality this proposal is a smart, calculated move. It is no secret that the Canadian public wants anything but another election, especially right away. So this puts some pressure on the opposition parties to tread lightly for the next while and to seriously consider letting the Conservatives have some limited freedom with their plans. Obviously the Conservatives know this and will be definitely trying to take advantage of the situation. Yet, while none of the opposition want to vote against the Conservatives and possibly be responsible for bringing down the house, this doesn't stop them for voting in favour of a motion proposed by the opposition. This is where the NDP's proposal comes into play. In some form or another, all three opposition parties support a child-care plan that puts money into the provinces coffers and provides government-funded spaces. The Conservatives on the other hand are looking to introduce a plan that would give a little - understatement - money directly to parents but offers no new spaces. This would also mean the child-care deal that is currently in place would be trashed. To vote against the Conservative plan, which could be packaged into the budget, would most certainly mean a fall of the government. To circumvent this problem the NDP will propose their Act. By being pro-active the NDP's plan could unite the opposition parties and inadvertently force the hand of the Conservatives to continue the Liberals' original child-care plan without bringing down the House. If successful, the NDP could add another line to their record and use it to prop themselves up in the next election. It would also make it look like the Conservatives are ultimately powerless and weak. However, this may not even be the NDP's purpose. This may just be a game of rhetoric to give relevance to the small NDP caucus. If there is even a hint of the Act passing, the Conservatives may suddenly feel generous and willing to negotiate with the NDP. Obviously the Conservatives will want nothing to do with the NDP's proposal. It prevents the Conservatives with following through on their child-care plan and it would bind them in the future. Their only option, since they do not have majority, would be to bargain with the NDP. In this scenario, the NDP are suddenly holding power that is beyond their size in the House and possibly, once again, dictating parts of the budget. It has become clear that the current manifestation of the NDP is not content being just bodies that fill chairs in the House. They are willing to be outspoken, pro-active and relevant. They are determined to take advantage of the minority government situation and use it to their advantage. And so far it seems to be working in their favour, especially if their increase in public support is any indication. Gone are the days of them being just noise and seemingly socialist extremists, Canadian-style. They seem to be showing a clear focus and whichever scenario is being played out with their proposal, they seem to be showing a lot more tact as well. This is definitely an NDP party that can be force in Canadian politics.

1 comment:

Halden said...

this is exactly the sort of thing the NDP must do in order to gain relevance. It cannot be seen as a party that will simple support or bring down a government. It must be a party of ideas and action.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)