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A federal election on November 9?

The Globe and Mail reports today that, “Liberals have stroked the potential trigger of a fall election by asking Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page to examine what they say is an inflated Conservative cost analysis of their plan to revamp employment insurance.”

The Liberals are questioning “Conservative calculations that peg the cost of the Liberal proposal to create uniform national standards for EI qualification at up to $4-billion.”

This issue came up at yesterday’s meeting of “the EI Working Group (which) was established in June to explore ways to improve fairness in EI eligibility and to examine the potential for bringing self-employed Canadians into the EI system.”

“Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has the opportunity to put forward a no-confidence motion in late September if he is not happy with the working group’s results.”

“There are currently 58 different regional standards for EI eligibility. A person has to have worked anywhere from 420 to 700 hours in the previous 12 months, depending on the regional unemployment rate, to collect benefits.”

“The Liberals want to lower the number of hours of work required to 360, a measure that they say would cost an additional $1.5-billion a year.”

“(Conservative) Human Resources Minister Diane Finley told the (EI Working Group) meeting yesterday that …the government was not going to support a national standard, the Liberals said.”

“NDP Leader Jack Layton, whose party initially proposed the 360-hour standard, has said repeatedly that he will vote against the Conservative government on any matter of confidence.”

“Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe has been less unequivocal but he, too, supports the Liberal proposal on employment insurance.”

“That means any Liberal confidence motion is likely to push the country into an election.”

The House of Commons is now set to resume sitting on Monday September 14. The EI Working Group report to the House is expected on Monday September 28 and a non-confidence vote is expected on Wednesday September 30.

If the Conservative government were to fall on September 30, election day would likely be Monday November 9.

The Globe and Mail report is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/review-of-cost-analysis-of-ei-reform-could-set-the-stage-for-a-fall-election/article1259259/?.