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Ousted Liberal Comuzzi helps Tories clear first budget vote

[PoliticsWatch posted 1:45 p.m. March 21, 2007]

OTTAWA  — On the same day he was kicked out of the Liberal caucus after 19 years as an MP, Joe Comuzzi rose in the House of Commons Wednesday evening as an independent to help the minority Conservative government survive the first confidence vote on the federal budget.  

An NDP subamendment on the budget motion was easily defeated as the Tories, Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and both independent MPs voted against it.  

The budget will face two more confidence votes next week on the opposition amendment and the budget itself. The Conservatives are expected to survive those votes because the Bloc Quebecois is supporting the budget. 

The Tories and the Bloc have 175 seats combined, more than enough to pass legislation in the House of Commons. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion emerged from the weekly Liberal caucus meeting to announce that he had expelled Comuzzi from the caucus because of his plans to support the budget. 

"He said he will vote for this bad budget so then he's not any more part of our caucus because a vote on the budget, like a vote on the throne speech, is a vote of confidence," Dion said.

"He's well aware after 19 years in the House of the consequences of what he's doing."

Comuzzi, who colleagues say will likely not run in the next election, resigned from former prime minister Paul Martin's cabinet two years ago when he refused to vote with the government on same-sex marriage legislation. 
  
The Thunder Bay MP has said he is voting for the budget because some of the new money in it could go to a cancer research facility in his riding. 

"It would be silly of me to vote against that. I'd be voting against my constituents," Comuzzi told a newspaper this week. 

Comuzzi's ouster doesn't alter the balance of power in the minority Parliament, but leaves the Liberals with exactly 100 seats in the House of Commons. The Conservatives have 125 seats, the Bloc 50, NDP 29 and there are now two independents and two vacancies. 

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> Budget in Brief

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