Budget unlikely to prompt election

Thu Mar 4, 2010 4:16pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The federal budget unveiled by the minority Conservative government on Thursday contains no poison pills and is highly unlikely to provoke an election.

--The Conservatives only control a minority of the seats in the House of Commons and will require the backing of at least one opposition party to pass the budget. But the budget does not appear to contain any measures that would provoke all three opposition parties to unite to defeat it. It does include measures to promote clean energy and increase productivity - both key demands from the Liberal opposition.

--An Ekos poll on Thursday put support for the Conservatives at 32.4 percent and the main official opposition Liberal Party on 29.4 percent. Neither party could be guaranteed of winning even a workable minority government if an election were held now, and the two main parties both say they don't want an election now.

--Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who won a strengthened minority in October 2008, has repeatedly said he wants to focus on the economic recovery rather than fight another election campaign

--The Liberals have lost the last two elections and are unlikely to push for a third unless they have a very good chance of winning. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff concedes he has a lot of work to do to persuade Canadians he could be prime minister. He said on Wednesday he did not think anyone wanted an election.

--The Liberals backed the January 2009 budget, demanding only in return that the government provide regular updates on how it was spending money that had been set aside to stimulate a recession-hit economy.

--The two smaller opposition parties - the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois -- are likely to stick to past practice and vote against the budget. This has no significance on the political landscape as long as the Liberals vote in favor.

(Editing by Janet Guttsman)