Ignatieff opposes, supports, tax cuts for middle class
Taking the helm of the Liberal party -- even if only by default -- during a time of economic and political crisis, there's no question that Michael Ignatieff has a very tenuous path to walk.
On one hand, Ignatieff must find a way to dispel Canadian concerns about the proposed Liberal-NDP coalition government -- one in which the government would be mortgaged to the separatist Bloc Quebecois. On the other hand, Ignatieff has to appease the supporters of that coalition arrangement, and keep them convinced that maybe, just maybe, he'll go ahead and defeat Stephen Harper and the Conservative government.
As National Post Full Comment editor Kelly McParkland notes today, this has backed Ignatieff into a very tenuous position -- one that may leave many Canadians wondering just how far Ignatieff can really be trusted.
As Parkland notes, Ignatieff recently voiced opposition to the middle-class tax cuts proposed by Stephen Harper.
"This is not the moment for broad-based tax cuts because we think it will lead us into structural deficit and our children will be paying the price for Stephen Harper's mistakes for years to come," Ignatieff insisted.
Yet this is very different from Ignatieff's position of just over a week ago, in which he announced that, as Prime Minister, he would address the economic crisis with, wait for it... middle-class tax cuts.
"I think it’s going to be important to get stimulus into the Canadian economy fast, so we may be looking at tax cuts very quickly, tax cuts targeted at medium and low income, to boost their purchasing power fast," Ignatieff announced.
According to the Chronicle Herald, Ignatieff added that he would prefer that those tax cuts be permanent.
Ignatieff noted in his interview with John Ivison that "[Mr Harper] seems to have a better sense of what constitutes confidence in the House of Commons. I welcome that development and want to see proof of it."
Yet Ignatieff himself needs to come to a better understanding that when it comes to economic issues, he cannot have it both ways.
He's either opposed to permanent tax cuts for the middle class, or he's against them.
It he decides to come down against them and defeat the government despite his earlier expressions to the contrary, there is no question that Ignatieff will pay.
He'll either try to go ahead with the proposed coalition government, be quickly defeated in Parliament and be faced with an election in which polls have indicated Canadians will deliver a landslide majority to the Conservative party. Or he'll go to an election, be faced with his flip-flop, and suffer dearly at the polls -- perhaps even worse than Stephane Dion's recent defeat.
Kelly McParkland describes Ignatieff's position as "breathing smoke". Should he sufficiently embolden himself to try and act on his sudden opposition to middle class tax cuts, he'll most certainly be playing with fire.
Other bloggers writing on this topic:
James Laxer - "Ignatieff's Dilemma: Coping with the Conservative Budget"
Dust My Broom - "Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff: I Was For Tax Cuts Before I Was Against Them"
Far and Wide - "The 'Wear It' Narrative"