Canada opposition boss seeks to cool budget rancor

Tue Jan 20, 2009 1:27pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By David Ljunggren and Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The leader of Canada's main opposition party said on Tuesday he is trying to cool tempers ahead of next week's federal budget but made it clear he is prepared to topple the minority Conservative government over the budget if necessary.

Liberal Party chief Michael Ignatieff also signaled he would abandon the unpopular policy of introducing a carbon tax. That idea helped push the Liberals to one of their worst ever performances in a federal election last October.

The government will unveil its budget on Jan 27 and needs the support of the Liberals to pass it. The two other opposition parties have already made clear they will vote against it.

The three opposition parties signed a deal on Dec 1 last year to bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, triggering a major constitutional crisis that ended only when Harper had Parliament suspended.

Ignatieff took over as Liberal leader on December 10 and since then has toned down his party's combative line, stressing Canadians want action on the financial crisis. Harper has also sounded more conciliatory of late.

"I believe -- and I think the country has responded well to this -- that we needed to lower the temperature, we just needed to calm down. Canadians were really angry before Christmas," Ignatieff told Reuters in an interview in his residence.

"You can't make good judgments when you're angry. I've just tried to tone it down and if the prime minister is doing that, he's picking up the same signals I am."

The two men met on Monday for what Ignatieff said was a businesslike meeting on the budget, which Harper promises will contain major stimulus measures. One recent media report cited officials as saying the budget deficit next fiscal year could be as much as C$40 billion ($32 billion).   Continued...