Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Budget vote response

The media frame the narrative. . .

The Globe and Mail editorial (Two-Tiered Liberal caucus):
Worse, Mr. Ignatieff has encouraged Mr. Williams to continue setting the very worst example on how to conduct federal-provincial relations. His over-the-top opposition to the federal Conservatives helped wipe them off Newfoundland's electoral map, but it also eliminated Newfoundland influence inside the federal government. Now, he has been sent a signal that if the Liberals form a government, they will bow down before him. Mr. Williams is not a leader who will accept a measure of victory graciously; next time, he will only be emboldened to seek more from the Liberals. And other premiers might be encouraged to follow Mr. Williams's lead – albeit with fewer histrionics – if the Liberals are in power.

Mr. Ignatieff need not have threatened his Newfoundland MPs with outright expulsion for voting against the budget. Lesser forms of discipline could have been sufficient. But he should not have permitted them to chart their own policy course without consequence. Whether or not this proves to be a “one-time pass,” as Mr. Ignatieff has claimed, it could have far-reaching consequences for him, for his party, and potentially for the country.
Adam Radwanski writes:
Historically, attempts to appease nationalist governments in Quebec have only resulted in more and more outrageous demands, until the whole thing blows up in everyone's face. I'm not sure why appeasing the quasi-nationalist government in Newfoundland would end any differently.
Rob Silver writes:
All I'm saying is if you vote against your party on a budget bill, there should be consequences.

And again, for the sake of clarity, this isn't a commentary on the legitimacy of the Newfoundland MP's or Danny Williams's grievances with Stephen Harper's budget. I have nowhere near enough information to judge whether Newfoundland is getting a raw deal here.
Steve Janke of the National Post writes:
Michael Ignatieff has decided that the intransigence of MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador is going to be rewarded. While MPs from other provinces are going to have to toe the party line, the rebels who have been promising to vote against the budget in order to please their constituents and appease Premier Danny Williams will be allowed the latitude to do so.
So far it's an inauspicious beginning for both the federal Liberal leader and his local MPs in this province.

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