Conservatives vow stimulus as confidence votes loom

Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:29am EST
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's minority Conservative government pledged on Monday to "spend what is necessary" to fix the economy a day before it delivers a budget on which its political survival may hinge.

Presenting its action plan in the Speech from the Throne, formally starting a new session of Parliament, the government said its economic stimulus plan would promote long-term growth while avoiding a return to permanent deficits.

The speech is technically a matter of confidence, meaning the government will fall in Parliament unless one of the three opposition parties supports it. But more attention is being paid to Tuesday's budget, which is also a confidence matter.

"Canadians face a difficult year -- perhaps several difficult years. In the face of such uncertainty, our government has developed a clear and focused plan," the government said in the unusually short speech.

"Our government will spend what is necessary to stimulate the economy, and invest in what is necessary to protect our future prosperity."

Two of the three opposition parties said they would oppose the Throne Speech while the Liberal Party, the biggest opposition party, which has enough votes to keep the government in power, made cautiously positive noises.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said the government appeared to have listened to some of his demands, for example saying the budget would seek to protect the vulnerable, but he said he wanted to read it before making a decision on whether to support it.

"I want to see whether they've done serious business or whether they're trying to fool us," Ignatieff told CBC television.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean (R) and Prime Minister Stephen Harper laugh before the Speech from the Throne in the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 26, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>