Canada's Flaherty sees partial support for budget

Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:53am EST
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives see more hope of winning support for their next budget from the left-leaning NDP than from the main opposition Liberals, which could help avoid an election widely expected in 2011.

In an interview with Reuters, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said it was clear from a meeting with Liberal finance critic Scott Brison that the rival party would vote against his budget, due early next year.

"It wasn't a very long discussion because he knows we're not doing big new spending programs and if the official opposition thinks that's the way to go, I guess they'll vote against the budget," Flaherty said.

The government and the New Democratic Party, on the other hand, have overlapping interests on worker training, he said.

"That doesn't mean they'll support the budget but it does mean there's some common ground," he said, referring to talks with NDP finance critic Thomas Mulcair.

Flaherty will meet in January with the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which has twice backed Conservative budgets.

Political analysts and some officials inside Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office predict the three opposition parties will unite to bring down the government over the budget.

The Conservatives have held a minority of seats in the House of Commons since coming to power nearly five years ago and need the support of some opposition legislators to survive confidence measures such as budgets.   Continued...