Government sets stay-the-course budget for June 6

Wed May 25, 2011 1:30pm EDT
 
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The reelected Conservative government will unveil a stay-the-course budget on June 6 restating commitments made in March and adding a couple of promises made during the election campaign, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Wednesday.

Flaherty said he would proceed with corporate tax cuts that have already been approved and give C$2.2 billion ($2.2 billion) to Quebec for harmonizing its sales tax with the federal tax, while still eliminating the budget deficit by 2014-15.

"Too many Canadians are still looking for work. The global economic recovery does remain fragile. We need to stay the course with our prudent low-tax plan for Canadian families," Flaherty told reporters outside the House of Commons.

The 2014-15 time frame is one year earlier than in the March 22 budget that Flaherty presented just before the government was toppled in Parliament, forcing an election, but it matches the commitment the Conservatives made during the campaign.

However, the C$11 billion in savings from spending cuts over four years that allows for that projection will not actually begin to be recorded in the budget until 2012, when a belt-tightening spending review is completed.

Flaherty had included in the March budget a number of concessions to the opposition New Democratic Party in an unsuccessful bid to prevent the fall of the Conservative government, which had a minority of seats in the House of Commons at the time.

The Conservatives returned with a majority of seats in the House in the May 2 election, and the new budget's passage is assured. He said, however, that all commitments made in the March budget would be in the June budget, including a hiring credit for small businesses, support for caregivers and poor seniors, and increased payments for health care.

The budget will phase out C$2-per-vote subsidies for political parties. The end of these subsidies will hurt the Conservatives' opposition rivals, which do not have the same depth and breadth of grass roots support.

Parliament is set to resume on June 2 and the government will lay out its broad policy agenda on June 3.

(Additional reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Peter Galloway)

 
<p>Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty listens to a question during a news conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa December 16, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>