Thursday, June 16, 2005

It's a trick and a trap, I'm not taking the rap

I think I'd be happier if this story were exactly opposite, because the current theoretical deal smells like a setup: The Opposition Conservatives are willing to support the NDP's $4.6-billion budget amendment, but only if the Liberals agree to delay same-sex marriage legislation. On Wednesday, Conservative House Leader Jay Hill said the trade-off has been subject of discussions between his party and the minority government. "There's been some negotiations," Hill said. "If we were to get a delay of C-38 (the marriage bill) until the fall and perhaps some other concession, we'd be happy." For the leading opposition party to side with the government on the budget, now that pre-election manoeuvreing has been forestalled, is taking a position of weakness - and for exactly the wrong sort of quid pro quo, here, too. Why? Now, if C-38 is temporarily shelved with an eye to sinking it in endless committees, Liberals can say that those mean Conservatives forced their hand, and it was sacrificed for the sake of passing the billions in spending from the NDP's wishlist; they'll get to claim they still support SSM (and are willing to be magnanimous in making concessions, unlike those terrible ideologues across the floor), while at the same time eliminating an inconveniently controversial issue from the order papers and front pages. Maybe those claims won't be particularly credible to anyone who's been paying attention, but that hasn't mattered much in recent months, has it?

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