Layton says agreement in principle
reached with Liberals
[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:00 p.m. April 26, 2005]
OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jack Layton announced Tuesday afternoon he and the Liberals are on their way to reaching an agreement that would allow his party to support the budget implementation bill.
"It appears likely that we will have an agreement in principle reached with the government," Layton told reporters in Ottawa.
NDP support of the Liberal budget implementation bill is crucial for the governing party to
survive an opposition non-confidence motion.
Layton's support of the budget implementation bill appears to be contingent upon his party supporting the Martin government in Conservative motions of non-confidence against the government.
"If we want the budget to pass, we'll have to support the government," he said. "So we're not going to vote for the non-confidence
"For us, it's more important to have a good budget
Layton said the agreement in principle consists of a $4.6 billion "investment in people and the environment" financed by
sacrificing planned corporate tax cuts for large companies.
The original Liberal budget contained a tax cut for corporations. But, according to Layton, those tax cuts will be on
hold for big corporations.
Layton said new areas of spending would include investments in education and training, an acceleration of the gas tax transfer to the provinces, a "significant investment" in building more affordable housing and an increase in foreign aid.
All this is new spending not included in Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's budget.
Layton's announcement came as a surprise after Prime Minister Paul Martin said earlier in the day that "discussions are ongoing" and "have not come to any conclusion."
Layton's support came at a high price for the PM, but it still does not guarantee he will survive non-confidence motions this spring.
Here's an examination of how the votes could go in the House.
A look at Parliament
The Liberals have 132 seats, the Conservatives 99, the Bloc Quebecois 54, and the NDP has 19. There are three independents - former Liberals Carolyn Parrish and David Kilgour and Chuck Cadman, a former Conservative who ran and won as an independent after he lost his riding nomination battle. There is also one vacant seat in Labrador that was held by Liberal MP Lawrence O'Brien who died earlier this year.
Technically, the Liberals have 131 seats because one of their MPs - Peter Milliken - is the speaker of the House and can only vote to break a tie.
How the party vote breaks down
If the NDP (19) and the Liberals (131) vote together, they would have a combined 150 votes.
The Bloc (54) and Tories (99) have 153 votes combined.
The Independent factor
Two of the three independent MPs have already announced their voting intentions.
Despite her animosity towards Martin and his team, Parrish said she will side with the government and believes Canadians do not want another federal. While Cadman, who had said he was against an early election, has now changed his mind after hearing from constituents over the weekend.
Kilgour, who left the Liberals because of the fallout from the sponsorship scandal, however, has been vague about his intentions and is one of the wild cards in these scenarios.
"What if 10 things come out on the other side at the Gomery inquiry?" Mr. Kilgour told the Globe during an interview. "I don't want to have to go back on an earlier decision."
So as a base, the Liberal, NDP, Parrish coalition has 151 combined votes.
The Bloc, Conservative, Cadman group has 154 votes, enough to defeat the government.
How the government can be defeated
Now assuming all MPs show up for a confidence vote, the most likely scenario is the government is defeated by a vote of 155 to 151 if Kilgour sides with the Conservatives. Or they are defeated by a vote of 154 to 152 if Kilgour sides with his former colleagues.
How the Liberals can win
Assume Kilgour sides with the Liberals and the NDP. There exists the possibility of a tie vote. Two Conservative MPs - David Chatters and Darrel Stinson -- are battling cancer and may not be able to show up for a vote.
So subtract two from the Conservative, Bloc 154 figure and you have a tie - 152 to 152. As speaker, Milliken will maintain the confidence in the government in his vote as the chair or speaker traditionally votes to maintain the status quo.
However, that scenario works only if both Conservative MPs cannot make it and Kilgour sides with the government.
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