By David F. Rooney
It was just about a year ago that Canadians went to the polls to elect — yet again — another minority government. Now the airwaves are once again filled with election speculation. Is it real? Or is it just smoke and mirrors?
MP Jim Abbott just shrugs.
“It’s anyone’s guess,” he said in an interview at Conversations on Monday. “But I’ll tell you this: my son is a poker player and he always says the most dangerous person at the table is the amateur. Take from that what you will.”
While he didn’t say his name, Abbott was clearly alluding to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff who has for some time now been feeding new news media’s appetite for election speculation.
The Liberals, however, can’t bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government by themselves; they would need the cooperation of both the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois to do that and then only if the Governor General agrees to dissolve Parliament.
In the meanwhile, Abbott has been travelling across the riding talking with constituents.
He said most people he has talked with are satisfied that the federal government is taking the necessary steps to deal with the impact of the global economic crisis, a crisis that now seems to be abating.
“For the most part, people have a positive, forward-looking anticipation,” he said.
Abbott noted that there is public concern about the BC Liberals’ decision to join the federal government’s HST program.
“I can tell you that (Premier Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen’s announcement) was as much a surprise for us as it was for you,” Abbott said. “We received notice of the announcement just a few hours before it was made public. I don’t think anything was discussed prior to that except for, perhaps, the transition funding.”
That “transition funding” is $1.6 billion Ottawa will pay Victoria as it moves towards implementation of the HST. That is “the full extent” of Ottawa’s involvement to date, he said, adding that the federal government does believe, over all, that the HST is advantageous to business and government because it makes tax collection more efficient. He pointed to the experience of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with the HST as being good examples of how well the program can work.
Beyond that, Abbott had very little to say about the HST.
“I don’t want to interfere in what is really a provincial decision,” he said.