It seems certain that the Conservative-led minority government will fall today and Canada will be plunged into its fifth federal election in a decade.
Despite the conservatives sprinkling the budget they introduced on March 22 with treats for everyone — including lower personal income taxes — all three opposition parties have already stated they plan to vote against the budget. The NDP were the first into the fray, issuing a press release within minutes of the public release of the budget document.
“Stephen Harper had an opportunity to address the needs of the hard working middle class families — sadly he chose to provoke an election, instead,” said NDP leader Jack Layton. “Nothing in this budget has persuaded me that Stephen Harper has changed his ways and is prepared to work with others in Parliament to give middle-class families a break,” said Layton. “Therefore New Democrats will not support the budget as presented.”
Stockwell Day, MP for Okanagan Coquihalla and President of the Treasury Board, said the opposition parties are the ones forcing the election, going against a budget that included concessions to NDP desires, such as increasing the Guaranteed Annual Income Supplement for seniors. The budget includes a planned increase of up to $600 annually for single seniors and $840 for couples. Support for seniors was also a topic raised by callers during Day’s recent town hall meeting.
“My constituents were talking about seeing some kind of an increase for seniors. It’s something that we thought was an important thing to do,” said Day, adding that the opposition, particularly Jack Layton also said they wanted to see that in the budget.
Day said opposition parties only have two words in regards to any budget — “not enough” — and always want more than the government can provide.
“The objections simply are ‘not enough.’ We can’t just irresponsibly lower money in every direction. Our economy would falter as many other global economies are,” said Day. “We are not going to let our economy run down the way it would if we adopted everything the NDP wanted.”
Before facing a budget vote, the Conservatives also have to get past a vote of non-confidence, based on a motion introduced by Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff Wednesday, alleging the conservatives are in contempt of parliament and are disregarding the rules of democracy.
The NDP and the Bloc Quebecois have already indicated they will support the Liberal motion, making the fall of the minority government today all but a certainty.