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NEWS: Budget date confirmed for March 22, election could be May 2 or 9

The Council of Canadians joined with thousands on Parliament Hill to support the call for a coalition government in December 2009

The Council of Canadians joined with thousands on Parliament Hill to support the call for a coalition government in December 2008

Postmedia News reports that, “The Harper government will unveil the federal budget on March 22, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Wednesday. The Conservatives need at least one of the opposition parties to support the budget — or at least abstain from voting it down — for the government to survive.”

“A confidence vote on the federal budget is expected to occur within days of the budget being tabled. An election precipitated by the budget’s defeat would probably take place in early May (perhaps May 2 or May 9). The Liberals and Bloc Québécois have indicated they will vote against the budget, leaving the NDP as the most likely party to prop up the Conservatives. NDP leader Jack Layton has outlined several proposals for the budget: increased benefits for low-income seniors; tax relief on home-heating bills; restoration of an incentive to encourage people to renovate their homes with energy-saving retrofits; making it a priority to work with the provinces to enhance the Canada Pension Plan; and immediate measures to increase the number of family doctors.”

BUDGET CUTS: News articles today have reported that the Harper government will cut $10 billion in federal spending (with deep cuts to spending on the environment, but with new money for prisons and border security). More on this at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=6648, as well as in this action alert http://canadians.org/action/2011/env-can-cutbacks.html.

POLLS: The Conservatives have consistently been leading in the polls lately, with the latest Ipsos-Reid poll indicating the Conservatives are in ‘majority government territory’ with 43 percent support in the poll (up 4 percentage points), the Liberals at 27 percent (up 2), the NDP at 13 percent (down 5), the Green Party at 5 percent (down 5), and the Bloc Quebecois at 10 percent. More on this at http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Majority+sight+tories+poll/4369266/story.html.

THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS: While details are to be confirmed, the Council of Canadians will be pursuing a ‘stop a Harper majority’ campaign. A Nanos Research poll released on February 22 found that just 26 per cent of Canadians would be comfortable with the Conservatives winning a majority. We would be pointing to why a Conservative majority is dangerous for Canada. Our positioning in the last several elections has been to focus on issues, and to strongly call for a fairer voting system through proportional representation, but also to state that the best likely outcome is a minority government with the balance of power held by progressive parties.

Past campaign blogs on the impending election can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?s=%22federal+election%22. Notably this blog – http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=6495 – indicates that perimeter security could be a major election issue. This blog also highlights the party positions on this issue.

Today’s Postmedia News report is at http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Federal+budget+tabled+March/4372183/story.html.