Perhaps Ignatieff may try to get a few changes in the budget but he better clear them with Harper first! There is no reason to be embarassed by failing to get changes and also voting to pass the budget because unless I am mistaken that is what he will do, not vote against the budget. Ignatieff can probably pass on this chance to defeat the Conservatives as long as he doesn't make it a habit as with Dion!
Ignatieff mum on budget; verdict due at 11 a.m. ET
Liberal chief could support plan, demand changes or bring down government
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 7:38 AM ET CBC News
Opposition Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was keeping his own counsel early Wednesday as Ottawa awaited his 11 a.m. ET verdict on the federal budget and, by extension, the fate of the Conservative government and the shape of Canada's response to a worldwide economic slump.
Watch the announcement and reaction live on CBCNews.ca and CBC Newsworld starting at 11 a.m. ET.
With the NDP and the Bloc Québécois set to vote against the government, Ignatieff and his Liberals will decide whether the budget passes — possibly with Liberal amendments — or the country heads toward a Liberal-NDP coalition or an election. Not tipping his hand, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff reacts equivocally to Tuesday's budget in the foyer of the House of Commons. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
The CBC's Margo McDiarmid, reporting from Ottawa, said it all comes down to Ignatieff, who declared after the budget was tabled Tuesday that he wanted to read it and sleep on it.
"But I have to tell you that the Liberals did have a caucus meeting last night," she said, "and some of them said, 'Well, you know, this is not a slam dunk. We're not going to necessarily, automatically support this budget.'"
For his part, Ignatieff kept things vague, telling CBC News there were things he liked about the budget and things he didn't.
"My concerns about the budget are: Have they underestimated the seriousness of the crisis? That affects all the numbers. If they make that judgment wrong, pretty well everything goes south, including the deficit projections," he said.
"Secondly, have they done enough for the unemployed? We’re very preoccupied and worried that unemployment is going to rise sharply. [Are] the EI [employment insurance] changes sufficient to deal with that crisis?
'Infrastructure is key to stimulus. Are they going to get the money out the door?'—Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff
"And the other issue, obviously, is the infrastructure side. Infrastructure is key to stimulus. Are they going to get the money out the door?"
A senior Liberal told the Canadian Press it's unlikely Ignatieff will support the budget without changes and will likely be looking for more concessions from the Conservative government. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has not yet commented on whether he's willing to change elements of the budget.
Flaherty's budget promises billions of dollars in new spending — ranging from money for infrastructure projects to aid for worker training and cash for more EI benefits — to help the country ride out the economic downturn. His financial plan predicts years of big deficits.
Ready to listen, Flaherty says
Interviewed Wednesday morning at a doughnut shop in his hometown of Whitby, Ont., Flaherty said he was in the dark about what budget changes, if any, the Liberals might demand.
"If there are useful suggestions from opposition parties, of course we will look at them," he told CBC News. "That's normal in a time of serious economic recession."
But he also said, "I certainly would not look at changing the focus of the document. We care about people; we're doing the EI amendments; we're going to retrain people; we're going to invest in infrastructure; we're going to take care of the important sectors of our economy that need taking care of; and we're going to protect access to financing. None of that's going to change."
The NDP and Bloc Québécois said Tuesday they would not support the budget.
"It's very clear it doesn't help the most vulnerable. It's going to leave a lot of people behind, especially those unemployed," NDP Leader Jack Layton said.
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe criticized the budget for not including enough for pay equity, the environment, seniors, social housing or lower-income families. "Obviously, we will not support that budget," he told reporters.