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Gomery delay means pre-election budget on the way 

[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:00 p.m. September 12, 2005]

OTTAWA  — Finance Minister Ralph Goodale said Monday that a six-week delay in the release of the final report on the sponsorship scandal by Justice John Gomery will provide him enough time to introduce a budget early next year.  
   
"If the time is available, I will no doubt make use of the time (to introduce a budget)," Goodale told reporters in Winnipeg.

Goodale's comments come after the commission of inquiry into the sponsorship scandal announced the release of its final report will be pushed back six weeks to February 1 of next year. 

In a televised address to the nation earlier this year, Prime Minister Paul Martin promised he would call an election 30 days after the publication of the final report of Justice John Gomery. 

Gomery was scheduled to release his final report on December 15, meaning the PM was expected to call an election in mid-January for the end of February or early March. 

February and March are the months when the federal government traditionally releases its budgets. 

With Gomery planning to report in early February, that means the PM would call an election in early March for mid April. 

Inquiry officials cited a larger than expected workload as the reason for the six-week delay. 

The delay has turned the federal political landscape upside down, as many were expecting a winter election. 

The additional time could provide Goodale with an opportunity to put some goodies in a pre-election budget. 

A Conservative party strategist told PoliticsWatch the party is ready for an election at any time, but the delay in the release in the Gomery report will help the Liberals because they are trailing the Conservatives in fundraising efforts. 

Election Canada's records show that over the first two quarters of this year the Conservatives have raised $7.5 million from donations compared to $3.1 million for the Liberals. 

Gomery is expected to issue two reports. His first report due in October is a fact-finding report, which is supposed to explain what went wrong with the program. The final report now due in February is to make recommendations on how to avoid future problems. 

The first report is expected to be more sensational than the second and the new delay means the Liberals will have over four months after its release before calling an election. 

"What it comes down to in the end is delay," the strategist said of Gomery pushing his report back.

"What we can say right now is what we've always said: The Liberals don't want to run an election on Gomery so they're going to do everything they can. So if Gomery has given them this out they're happy."

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