Layton wants oil subsidies cut
[PoliticsWatch Posted 5:15 p.m. April 26, 2006]
NDP Leader Jack Layton said Wednesday his party will not support the
Conservative government's budget if it does not include a number of
measures, including cutting back on subsidies to oil and gas
"If we don't see long-term funding of child care, if we
don't see investment in post-secondary education, fixing up
(Employment Insurance) and cutting back on this incredible subsidy
to the most profitable oil and gas companies, we can't support the
budget," Layton told reporters after question period.
The NDP estimates the federal government spends $1.5 billion a year
on subsidies to oil and gas companies.
Layton said he wants money currently used on subsidies to oil and
gas companies reallocated into renewable energy and achieving Kyoto
goals. He said it was unfair that taxpayers were giving money to oil
companies while the companies recorded record profits and consumers
were paying record high prices.
The minority Conservative government will introduce its first budget
on Tuesday, May 2.
The Conservatives need the support of at least one of the three
opposition parties to get a budget through the House and avoid the
defeat of the government.
Although no party wants to go to the polls just three months after the
last federal election, both the Liberals and the NDP are now making
demands regarding what they want to see in the budget.
Liberal MP John McCallum hinted this week that his party could vote
against the budget if it reverses a one-per-cent income tax
reduction introduced by the Liberal government days before the
government fell in November.
Layton's challenge on oil and gas subsidies comes a day after U.S.
President George W. Bush asked Congress to remove a minor tax break for oil companies, worth
$2 billion over 10 years.
Layton raised the issue of oil and gas subsidies with Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in question period on Wednesday.
"Is he going to follow the same old Liberal practice of giving massive subsidies to the oil and gas sectors, the most polluting and the most profitable, or is he going to do what Canadians want and what George Bush is now calling for, and direct those funds to energy conservation, to efficiency and renewable energy?"
The PM quipped about Layton's support of a Bush policy, saying,
"I do not know what to think of the NDP being in league with George Bush."
Harper was non-committal but said the government's budget would not
include new subsidies for oil companies.
The Conservative government has reached out to the opposition
parties, as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has held pre-budget
meetings with the opposition finance critics.
The budget is expected to include the Conservative $1,200 child care
check to parents with children under six and a one-per-cent
Flaherty also revealed Wednesday he plans to keep a Conservative
commitment to rein in government spending growth.
He denied the spending cuts would be painful.
"Pain's a relative term," he said.
"When I look at a spending increase of almost 15 per cent, I
think most Canadians would look at that and say, 'It would be a
thrill if we could do that in our household.' But it's not
maintainable and sustainable over time."
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