And the wheels turn
Harper girds for child-care battle
Conservatives will need support of the Bloc to ensure families get cheques by July
Feb. 10, 2006. 01:00 AM
...If the Conservatives are to survive their first budget and get to deliver cheques to parents of young children instead of funding to the provinces, they will need the support of the Bloc Québécois. Still reeling from the outcome of the election, Gilles Duceppe is not spoiling for an early showdown.
If there is one area of the country where Harper's controversial cabinet moves have not put much of a damper on his honeymoon, it is Quebec where the advantage of securing a Montreal presence at the cabinet table has widely outweighed the unseemliness of appointing a non-elected minister to do so.
At the best of times, most Quebecers are either lukewarm or indifferent to the notion of an elected Senate. For many, Lucien Bouchard gave floor-crossing a good name when he abandoned Brian Mulroney in 1990.
This week, Duceppe said he did not oppose the notion of direct help to families. But he also hinted that to secure Bloc support, Harper would have to earn the blessing of Premier Jean Charest.
With his own election not all that far away, Charest is not about to stand in the way of the dispensing of federal money to Quebec families.
Only half of them currently take advantage of the province's generous child-care program. There have been suggestions this week that Charest could recoup the federal money from those who access the system by raising the daily fee of the program from $7 to $10.