So the Conservatives are trying to curry favour with Conservative-described "small men of Confederation" (the Premiers of the largest and most important provinces in Confederation) by throwing some cash at the struggling industrial sectors of those provinces economies. Now, even though the money is nowhere near the level which would be useful for the provinces, particularly Ontario (which the Conservatives have generally been only too happy to ignore) any sort of support is welcome, so you would expect the federal money for these crucial industries, in the most crucial provinces in Confederation, to start flowing as soon as the announcement was made, with no pre-conditions, right?
Well, if one cared about the economic well being of Central Canada, and the implications for national unity which it has, then you would think yes. If you were the Conservative government, the answer is of course, no. The money is entirely reliant on the passing of the next budget, effectively taking the fate of thousands of unemployed workers in Central Canada hostage and using them as an election issue. Both McGuinty and Charest were quick to jump on this:
"I don't think forestry workers of Quebec deserve to be part of the election campaign (that would ensue should the budget be defeated). They need the help now and we should be moving now"-Charest
" ...In the grand scheme of things, it is not commensurate with the level of need and the sense of urgency...Either the need is urgent or it is not. And if it is urgent then you take all steps to ensure that that money flows unconditionally."-McGuinty
In addition to turning the Canadian economy into a game on the eve of a recession, the Conservatives are also ignoring one of their favourite targets, women, according to a source no higher than Canada's only female Prime Minister, and Conservative, Kim Campbell.
"...The small number of women in Stephen Harper's Conservative cabinet signals the issue is a low priority for his government."
"it is important because the only way you open up doors for women is by giving them an opportunity to hold these positions to make it seem like a natural thing"
"Women such as Immigration Minister Diane Finley, Bev Oda at International Development and Heritage Minister Josee Verner have few speaking opportunities during question period, and are almost never available to speak to reporters either after question period or caucus meetings. They very rarely chosen by government strategists to appear on political news programs to field questions."
We've seen obvious Conservative hostility towards "uppity" women in moves such as funding cuts and the destruction of the Charter Challenges program, but to my knowledge this is the first time someone as high as an Conservative ex-PM has been openly critical of the Conservative government on this issue. Contrast this with the Liberal Pink Book, and Dion's bold (and so far kept) promise of 1/3rd women candidates, and it is no surprise that women flock towards the Liberals as fast as they are almost deliberately repelled from the Conservatives. To go beyond federal scene, and look at the provincial, people of Mississauga South will remember what happened when the Conservatives ignored a well qualified, hard working, politically active woman in Effie Triantafilopoulos. The result was a massive Liberal victory.