Stephen Harper and Quebec

The Globe editorial board says the Parti Quebecois’ victory puts the onus on the Prime Minister. A Conservative organizer predicts “great fun and games.” Human Resources Minister Diane Finley makes the first move, addressing employment insurance.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Finley shunned any suggestions of changing the way EI is managed, pointing instead to the ways Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has made the program more flexible to respond to provincial demands.

“Employment insurance has been federal jurisdiction since 1940,” Finley said by phone from Halifax where she unveiled an expansion of her national youth employment strategy. “It’s national programs to help all regions of the country. We’ve made it more flexible so that it does respond more directly to changes in local market conditions. But our focus is quite frankly on helping people get back to work, as evidenced by today’s announcement, so that they don’t need EI. I’m quite happy to work with Marois’s government on common goals.”

Her officials pointed out that Finley has not, however, said a flat No to anything from Quebec.

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