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Harper asks why Liberals, NDP won't vote for "popular" budget

[PoliticsWatch posted 4:55 p.m. March 20, 2007]

OTTAWA  — Prime Minister Stephen Harper went on the offence again in question period Tuesday and demanded to know why the Liberals and the NDP were not supporting the Conservative government's budget.   
 
"This budget contains important tax reductions that Canadians have asked for, that Canadians want to see," the PM said. "This budget contains popular and desirable social, environmental and economic measures that have been demanded by Canadians. Every one of these things is popular."
 
Monday's budget is expected to pass after the Bloc Quebecois quickly said it would support it because of the $3.2 billion in additional transfers Quebec will receive in the coming years. 
 
However, the Liberals and the NDP will oppose the budget. 

Leading off question period, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said "never has so little been done with so much" and called the Conservatives' plan to address the fiscal imbalance a "mess."

Harper shot back and cited a newspaper article that alleged Dion made his decision not to support the budget before reading it. 

"The leader of the Opposition does not single out for criticism any single initiative in this budget, but he is going to vote against every one of them because he already made up his mind before he read it and that is something he will have to explain in the next election," the PM said. 

NDP Leader Jack Layton also came under attack from the PM after he alleged the budget did nothing to tackle the "prosperity gap."

"The NDP in opposing this budget is rejecting what every NDP leader in history has stood for," Harper countered. "The leader of the NDP should be ashamed of himself."

Meanwhile, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe is calling the government's transfers to Quebec a huge victory for his party.  

During the first day of budget debate in the Commons, Duceppe said the "concrete gestures" to address the fiscal imbalance contained in the budget "demonstrates that the Bloc's presence in Ottawa is profitable for Quebec and all the more so when the government is a minority government."

"If we are supporting the budget, it is because there is $3.2 billion on the table, but not on a permanent basis. We have to wait on a decision from the federal government. It could change. We have seen that in the past, but we are taking that money."

Speaking to reporters after question period, Duceppe again took aim at Dion for not supporting the budget that increases transfers to Quebec. 

In addition to Quebec, all three major party leaders in the Quebec provincial election are backing the budget, making Dion the only party leader from Quebec to oppose it. 

"It's tough to understand Mr. Dion," he said. "He toured around Canada for two weeks saying he doesn't want an election and now, he's not happy because we're supporting the budget. He should thank us since there'll be no election. I mean, it's tough to follow the guy."

: Related Links

> Budget in Brief

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