Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tories support Grit budget amendment

So after relating all the faults in the budget Ignatieff has required only that the Conservatives give regular reports on how this faulty budget is being implemented. I just wonder if Ignatieff did not clear the amendment with Harper before moving it. This is the new Liberal Party. Instead of sitting on their hands as in the Dion era they are now in a de facto coalition with them as Layton points out. This is the Great Liberal Leap Forward.

Tories support Grit budget amendment
By Juliet O'Neill and Andrew Mayeda, Canwest News ServiceJanuary 28, 2009 7:01 PM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government promptly endorsed Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's sole condition for supporting the budget.
Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters
OTTAWA — The federal government's survival was guaranteed for as long as a year Wednesday by Liberal support for the budget, in exchange for three "accountability" reports to Parliament as measures to stimulate the economy are rolled out.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government promptly endorsed Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's sole condition for supporting the budget.
"It does nothing that we don't normally do, which is report back to Parliament upon the progress that we intend to make in addressing the economic situation that faces our nation," Government House Leader Jay Hill told reporters.
By contrast, Ignatieff's move provoked outrage from New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, who wanted the Liberals to defeat the government over the budget as early as next week. Layton accused Ignatieff of "propping up" Harper, and Duceppe declared the opposition coalition formed early last month "dead."
The Liberal amendment, set for a vote in the House of Commons on Monday, would require government reports to Parliament on the budget implementation and its impact on Canadians in late March and June and early December.
Layton and Duceppe's strong reaction put Ignatieff on the defensive in the House of Commons, where he denied during budget debate there is any Liberal alliance with the minority Conservative government, and vowed to hold Harper "on a very tight leash."
Ignatieff portrayed his amendment as a method of putting the government on probation, but made clear he has no taste for defeating Harper soon, a step that would trigger an election or a coalition government. "Canadians don't want another election and they're tired of political games," he said when announcing the proposal.
The reports require details of fairly general themes, such as protecting the vulnerable, minimizing job losses, creating jobs, and stimulating the economy in "a manner fair to all regions of Canada." They also seek "an assurance" that the deficit is not a burden to future generations.
The Liberal amendment to the budget is certain to be passed when it comes to a vote Monday in the 308-seat House of Commons. The Conservatives have 143 seats, the Liberals 77, the Bloc Quebecois 49, the NDP 37, and there are two Independents.
If the Liberals aren't satisfied with the government's progress reports, they reserve the right to defeat the government, Ignatieff vowed.
"We are putting this government on probation," he said. "We will be watching them like hawks to make sure the investments Canadians need actually reach them."
Layton immediately slammed Ignatieff, saying the Liberals no longer had the right to claim to be the government-in-waiting.
"We have a new coalition now on Parliament Hill. It's a coalition between Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff," Layton told reporters.
Duceppe said when the Liberals shared their budget-amendment proposal with him, he declared, "The coalition is dead, it's finished, it's over."
Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams accused the Harper government for the second straight day of shortchanging his province under the new equalization formula confirmed in the budget.
"You can tell all along that this was a strategy," said Williams. "They basically took the regulations . . . and said, 'How can we give the maximum shaft (to) Newfoundland and Labrador?' "
Newfoundland officials have calculated that the new formula will cost the province roughly $1.5 billion in federal transfers over the next three years. But a senior Harper adviser noted the provinces have known about the new formula since November, when the federal government announced that the growth of equalization payments would be capped.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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