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Banks opposed winter election and Liberal-NDP coalition

Linda McQuaig writes in the Toronto Star, “The full story of how the Establishment closed ranks against the fledgling coalition has yet to be told, but a small piece of it may have inadvertently come to light last week. It was an unlikely source – the controversial secret tape in which Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt (speaks) privately to an aide…”

In the tape, “Raitt describes how, at a closed-door meeting of politicians and corporate CEOs last January, bank presidents threatened to cut off funding to the deeply indebted Liberal party if Ignatieff voted against the Conservative budget… The taped comments raise questions about what role the banks may have played in nixing the coalition, and also what power they wield over the severely financially strapped Liberal party.”

Raitt says, “They did it at the Canadian Council of (Chief) Executives, there was three presidents of major banks who stood up in the room – and this is not from cabinet so I can talk about it – stood up and said, `Ignatieff, don’t you even think about bringing us to an election. We don’t need this. We have no interest in this. And we will never fund your party again.'”

While denying there was any threat, Liberal MP John McCallum “acknowledged that some CEOs at the meeting had opposed the Liberal-NDP coalition, as well as opposing an election. And he also acknowledged that it was likely the Liberal party borrowed money from the banks, although he said he didn’t know any details.”

You will remember that in early-December, the CBC reported that, “Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean has granted a request from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until late next month, a move that avoids a confidence vote set for Monday that could have toppled his minority government. …Harper would not reveal the content of the discussion, citing constitutional traditions, but he said the first order of business when Parliament resumes on Jan. 26 will be the presentation of the federal budget, to be delivered the following day. …The decision to suspend Parliament only gives the ruling Conservatives a reprieve until Parliament resumes in about two months. At that point, the Tory government could be brought down when it tables the budget, which would be a confidence vote, as all money bills are.” Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberal party supported the Conservative budget at the January 29 vote in the House of Commons.

Linda McQuaig’s column is at

The CBC report is at