Atlantic disaccord in Tory caucus
[PoliticsWatch updated 4:00 p.m. May 1, 2007]
Two Conservative MPs from Atlantic Canada are denying reports they
are considering voting against the budget implementation bill
because of political pressure in their home
Over the past week, two stories have appeared reporting on a
brewing revolt in the Tory caucus known for its discipline.
On Tuesday, National Post columnist John Ivison named five
MPs from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia who "government
sources" told him were "potential dissidents" who
"have threatened to vote against" the budget bill.
None of the five MPs returned the Post's calls for comment.
On Tuesday, PoliticsWatch caught up with two of the MPs after a
meeting of the Commons fisheries committee.
Nova Scotia MPs Gerald Keddy and Bill Casey both
denied threatening to vote against their own government on a
"I'm not even going to waste my time commenting on that," Keddy
said. "I'm denying it."
Casey also denied making the threat to vote against the budget
Since the Conservatives introduced their budget earlier this year,
the premiers of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia have been critical of
the new equalization formula they claim will make a historic accord
they signed regarding resource revenues meaningless.
Under the budget changes, the premiers have the option to stay in the old equalization system and keep 100 per cent of their resource revenues. Newfoundland and Nova Scotia negotiated to have their offshore resource revenues excluded in the recent Atlantic Accord. The provinces can also enter the new equalization system and have 50 per cent of their resource revenues included in their equalization calculations.
Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams, who is a Progressive
Conservative, has gone as far as urging people in his province to
vote against the Conservatives in the next election.
After Williams and other premiers came out against the new
equalization deal, Keddy was front and centre defending the deal to
reporters in Ottawa.
"This system here allows for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to look at a new deal within the Confederation or look at their old deal and keep their offshore accord 100 per cent of it and accept the 10-province
average," Keddy said at the time.
"I think this is a fair process that's been put forward."
Government sources told PoliticsWatch Tuesday they are not aware of serious threats by Atlantic MPs to vote against the budget, but do know meetings have been organized with Finance Minister
The Post reported that Flaherty is to meet with officials from Nova
Scotia this week to smooth over any rift.
The budget has the support of the Bloc Quebecois so even if five
government MPs did vote against the government the bill would still
easily pass in the House of Commons.
Nonetheless, political parties tend to enforce stringent caucus
discipline on MPs when it comes to matters of confidence. MP Joe
Comuzzi was recently expelled from the Liberal caucus after he
voted with the government on the budget.
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