While they agree that Canadian voters aren’t wanting another election anytime soon, local NDP MP Alex Atamanenko (Boundary Similkameen) and Conservative Stockwell Day (Okanagan Coquihalla) say that both they and there parties are ready for one.
They disagree, however, on the intentions of the federal Conservative government and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Day dismisses rumours about a possible election as speculation, and said it’s up to the opposition parties to work with the Conservatives as Parliament returned to session this week, with the 2011 budget expected in March.
Much of the debate so far this session has been on the government’s plan to cut corporate taxes, which the Liberals have said they cannot support, and the Conservatives, so far, have refused to back down on.
“We are hearing from opposition members that if they have a chance they will force an election, but that is certainly not our plan,” said Day. “We are certainly ready if we have to, but we’re with most Canadians on this.”
He said most Canadians do not want an election, preferring their elected representatives “stay focused on the economy and on jobs.”
“I think Canadians want all of us elected officials concentrating on what matters most to them, not our narrow political interests,” said Day. “We’re hoping that the opposition is willing to help us out on that.”
In spite of Day’s hopes, Atamanenko said there are signs the Conservatives are expecting the budget to be voted down, which would force an election.
“Harper is doing all these attack ads. That’s an indication he may be up to something,” said Atamanenko, adding that if the call for an election does come, the NDP is ready, “with people on the ground and money in the bank.”
However, Atamanenko would like to get past the partisan nature of government, instead being proactive and getting help to the people of the country that need it most.
“I think he has missed a golden opportunity,” said Atamanenko, adding that when the opposition tries to raise issues in Parliament, they are often met with silly answers and criticism from members of the ruling Conservative party.
The NDP’s priorities for the upcoming budget revolve around getting more services out to Canadians, including more money for low-income seniors, a more generous Canada Pension Plan and an increase in family doctors.
“There are a lot of people that could be helped: pensioners, students, jobs being transferred to other countries,” said Atamanenko, adding that public spending priorities are not in the right place. “We’re looking for Harper to come around in good faith and work with people.”