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Flaherty to table budget May 2

[PoliticsWatch Posted 4:45 p.m. April 24, 2006]

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

OTTAWA  — Mark Tuesday May 2 on your calendar.  
  
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty revealed in the House of Commons Monday that will be the day the first budget of the new Conservative government will be tabled.  

The budget will include two key Conservative election promises -- the first one per cent cut in the GST and the government's plan to send parents with children under the age of six a monthly cheque of $100 per child to help with child care costs.

"I am approaching our government’s first budget much like a typical Canadian family: setting priorities, making realistic choices and finding ways to live within our means," Flaherty said in a statement. 

"Canadians have chosen change. They want a government that treats their tax dollars with respect. That means making responsible choices, being accountable and delivering on the priorities we proposed to Canadians."

The Conservatives need the support of at least one of the three opposition parties to get the budget passed and avoid the defeat of the government. 
 
It is unlikely any party would defeat the government given an election was held just three months ago and the Liberals are in the midst of a leadership race that will not conclude until December. 

Nonetheless, two of the opposition parties were already sabre rattling on Monday and making budget demands. 

Liberal MP John McCallum told reporters the Liberals would have a difficult time supporting the budget if it rolled back a one per cent cut in income taxes that were introduced by the Martin government in November. 

Flaherty is expected to reverse that cut in order to pay for the across the board GST cut. 

"I am not today in a position to say how we will vote on a budget that we have not seen," said McCallum. "I am saying we would be very hard pressed not to vote against a budget that raised income tax."

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jack Layton said his party will introduce a list of items it wants to see in the budget on Tuesday. 

Layton said that list will include things he has brought up in meetings with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, including long-term child-care space funding, post-secondary education funding and action on climate change.

Harper consulted with the opposition parties in advance of the throne speech, but Layton noted in the House of Commons that Harper has "abandoned that approach" in recent days. 

Last week, Harper toured four cities across the country and delivered speeches in which he dared the opposition parties to defeat his government on the child-care plan and the GST cut that will be key components of the budget. 

In question period on Monday, Layton criticized the PM for "going around the country acting like a schoolyard bully."

"He was threatening the opposition parties," Layton said. "If we are going to make Parliament work we need dialogue, not dares."

Harper denied the bully allegation and said his party was listening. 

"(But) at the same time we have commitments to fulfill," the PM said in question period. "The reality is that the child care allowance is a budget measure. Therefore, it is a confidence measure and we hope that all parties will see the wisdom of supporting money that goes directly to parents."

Layton said after question period that Harper has given him no indication that he is considering long-term funding for child care.

"He seems hung up on this mythology that a tax rebate of some sort is going to create child care spaces -- it doesn't work, it's never worked."

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