"He's slipping back to that old Reform Party view of the unemployed, that people would rather sit at home receiving a cheque - as paltry as it is - rather than work," Mr. Layton said.
"People have moved on from that Reform view of things that says that EI is too generous or too lucrative. I think Canadians understand that people who are on EI need EI..."
Unfortunately it's all true. Economists have known for a while that a portion of Canada's unemployment is "structural unemployment" - a component of which comes from some people who are unemployed because Canada's generous welfare state makes it more advantageous for them to be.
It's just an economic fact. Canada's labour market has it, and the only way to get rid of it would be to do things like reducing EI benefits - which is about as likely to happen as Stephane Dion becoming Prime Minister.
So here Iggy Puff and the Dippers come along and suggest making Canada's already overly generous welfare state even more generous.
Harper is right: "absurdity" is the word to use in response.