Prime Minister Steven Harper still faces a political showdown with Liberal, New Democrat, and Bloc Quebecois MPs over Flaherty’s budget announcement; a showdown that could conceivably oust the Conservative government from power.
Harper announced today that he will delay the vote on Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s fiscal update to Dec. 8, exactly one week after the vote was originally expected.
The opposition parties all declared yesterday that they would not support the ways and means bill detailed in Flaherty’s budget announcement, which is considered a confidence bill.
If it fails to pass, the six-week-old Conservative government would fall on Dec. 8.
Consistent with the opposition parties’ unanimous condemnation yesterday of Flaherty’s economic statement, the Liberal party intends to table a non-confidence motion of its own in the House of Commons on Dec. 1, which also calls for the formation of a new government.
If the motion carries, the Conservative minority government may fall and the Governor General could call on the opposition parties to form a coalition government – a first for a federal government in Canada – rather than have Canadians go to the polls in a snap election.
In his televised announcement, Harper reacted to the situation by saying that the opposition parties “want to take power, rather than earn it” and in response to speculation of a NDP-Liberal power-sharing deal, accused Liberal MPs of “allying with a party they said would destroy the country.”
The Honourable Member for Willowdale, Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay, said the opposition parties have lost confidence in the government over the measures called for in Flaherty’s fiscal update and they should work together to defeat it, even if that means replacing the Conservative government with a Liberal-NDP coalition supported by the Bloc.
Findley also said that the opposition is most concerned about the lack of economic stimulus in Flaherty’s fiscal update and calls instead for immediate action through a comprehensive economic stimulus package.
She also dismisses the idea that the opposition began the political standoff, or that the opposition parties are motivated merely by the proposed funding cut to political parties, which could cripple campaign financing for the opposition parties.
“Instead of dealing with the economic crisis, (Harper) brought in a number of issues in the economic update that were purely political,” she said. “We’re saying ‘why are you putting in … the denial of (public servants’) right to strike?’ (and) ‘why attack pay equity?’ And so the party financing (issue) is a small part (of what the opposition is upset about).”
As for the Liberal non-confidence motion that will be read in the House of Commons on Monday, Findley expects that it will find support from all the opposition parties and therefore pass, potentially toppling the Conservative government.