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article imageCanada's budget nixed by opposition, gov't could fall

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By Hans Smedbol     Mar 22, 2011 in Politics
Ottawa - The Conservative Government's attempt at a 2011 budget for Canada failed to pass the House of Commons today. This leaves the Government open to motions of non-confidence which may take place in the next few days, resulting in a spring election.
The Conservatives also face another possible vote of non-confidence over the issue of their refusal to provide details about their deals in regard to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, their tough on crime and prisons agenda, and various other estimations, the costs of which they were requested to provide to Parliament, but refused to fully provide.
According to the CBC news site, and on the program, "Power and Politics" with Evan Solomon, all three opposition parties were unimpressed with the budget, and all found reasons to reject it. The Liberals thought that it doesn't meet the needs of Canadians. The Bloc Quebecois were unhappy with the lack of attention to Quebec's demands for compensation in regard to their implementation of the HST in Quebec. The Bloc's leader complained that already B.C. and Ontario had been compensated and that Quebec was expecting the same, only to be disappointed again. He continued that this was not a new story, but had happened last year too, when the Bloc was put off by promises of "later". He went on to say that he didn't believe their promises and would be voting against the budget. The NDP had asked for consideration for seniors and other low income folks, but the Tories offered less than half of the funds the NDP had asked for, and refused to address the issue of expanding the current CPP (Canada Pension Plan) such that seniors would have slightly more fiscal stability in their lives The government did make token efforts to please the NDP's requests, but appear to have failed to win them over, as Jack Layton stated clearly that his party would not be able to support the budget.
CTV stated that:"The NDP had set out five conditions for their support of the budget: pension reform, cutting the sales tax on home heating, relief for low-income seniors, raising the number of family doctors, specifically in rural areas, and boosting the EcoEnergy Retrofit program."
Jack Layton
Jack Layton is leader of Canada's NDP & Member of Parliament
Photo courtesy NDP Party, Facebook
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Layton appeared particularly unhappy with no sales tax cut on home heating costs, and their non-addressing of the family doctor shortage. He was also not happy with the offered increase to the GAIN (Guaranteed Annual Income) benefit for seniors without sufficient pension coverage, as the Conservatives had offered only half of what had been requested, a sum which was said to have added up to about $1.50 a day per senior...enough for most of a cup of coffee.
The Conservatives have further raised the stakes by claiming to refuse consideration of any amendments to the budget. As CTV news stated, this inflexibility will likely lead to a vote of confidence in the next few days.
All this comes soon after a Commons committee voted to find the Government in Contempt of Parliament, for
"The government's failure to produce all documents that had been requested from it or to provide a satisfactory explanation for withholding them impedes the ability of MPs to carry out their duties, the report said, and the government is therefore in contempt." as reported by CBC News online.
Whether the Governement will survive such a Parliamentary censure of contempt, leading to a vote of non-confidence, or whether the non-confidence vote will come through their refusal to negotiate the terms of the budget, their refusal to accept any amendments whatever to their budget bill is at this time debatable, but a vote of non-confidence could very well take place, on either platform in the next few days. Only time will tell if Canadians will be faced with another election this spring, but all the signs are pointed in that direction currently.
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