Parliament backs budget, government safe

Tue Feb 3, 2009 7:17pm EST
 
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Parliament voted overwhelmingly to back the federal budget on Tuesday, ensuring the survival of the minority Conservative government.

Legislators voted 211 to 91 to approve the budget, which contains tens of billions of dollars in stimulus measures. The government expects to have about C$85 billion in deficit spending over the next five years to help the Canadian economy recover.

The opposition Liberals had made clear before the vote they would vote in favor if the government agreed to file regular updates on how the stimulus measures were being implemented -- a condition the Conservatives readily agreed to.

Had the government lost the vote, the most likely result would have been another election. The Conservatives strengthened their minority in an October 14 election.

The Liberals and other opposition parties had threatened to bring down the government in December, charging the Conservatives were not doing enough to help the economy.

In an effort to keep the Conservatives in power, Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to introduce the budget in late January with stimulus measures, rather than wait until late February or early March when it is normally unveiled.

A handful of Liberal legislators from the Atlantic province of Newfoundland voted against the budget to show their unhappiness at what they said were moves by Ottawa to cut federal transfers to the province.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff -- who says Canada does not need another election now -- said he had allowed the legislators to vote against as a one-off protest.

The opposition New Democratic and Bloc Quebecois parties also voted against the budget.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd, Editing by Sandra Maler)

 
<p>Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (L) shakes hands with Prime Minister Stephen Harper after delivering his budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in this January 27, 2009 file photo. Parliament voted overwhelmingly to back the federal budget on Tuesday, ensuring the survival of the minority Conservative government. REUTERS/Tom Hanson/Pool</p>