Party leaders jockey for position as election looms

September 2 and 3, 2009 – Federal party leaders position themselves after Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals began pushing for a fall election.

Prime Minister Harper says he will not make any “backroom deals” but is willing to listen to specific proposals coming from the other parties.

The Liberals have abandoned the blue-ribbon EI consultation panel they negotiated in June, and Ignatieff says he won’t negotiate with Harper any longer.

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe says the Bloc is ready for an election, and they will vote in the interests of Quebec on an issue-by-issue basis.

NDP leader Jack Layton denies any existing deals with the Liberal Party or Bloc.  Layton he says he will not make any “backroom deals”, and that Stephen Harper must “reach out” and take action on NDP issues or he will not support the Conservatives in the House of Commons.

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“Mr. Harper, your time is up”

Michael Ignatieff says the Liberal Party no longer has confidence in the Conservative government, and they will work to trigger an election at their earliest opportunity.

Liberals say they will not negotiate, and there is nothing Harper can do to change their minds.

The game is up for this Conservative government … Mr. Harper, your time is up.  We cannot support this government any further.

- Michael Ignatieff

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The Ignatieff Ultimatum

Michael Ignatieff says the Liberal Party will vote to defeat the government in an upcoming confidence vote unless the Prime Minister addresses four key issues.

Ignatieff says an election can be avoided if Stephen Harper agrees to consult with Liberals on planned changes to Employment Insurance, marking a dramatic departure from Ignatieff’s previous refusals to offer specific public policy suggestions to the Harper government.

ul·ti·ma·tum (uhl-tuh-mey-tuhm) : a final proposition, condition, or demand ; especially one whose rejection will end negotiations and cause a resort to force or other direct action

- Meriam Webster dictionary

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Government defends $50 billion deficit

May 26 to 28, 2009 - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says Canada’s 2009/10 budget deficit will grow to over $50 billion, about 50% higher than the $34 billion deficit projected in January.

Liberals demanded Flaherty’s resignation for ‘gross incompetence’.

The government defended its deficit, saying it is necessary during a recession and affordable given Canada’s favourable fiscal position relative to other leading economies.

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Harper’s optimistic economic outlook

Stephen Harper predicts Canada will emerge from the global recession faster than other countries, and stronger than before.

Canada was the last advanced country to fall into this recession, we will make sure its effects here are the least severe, and we will come out of this faster than anyone, and stronger than ever.

- Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Coalition dies as Liberals support Conservative budget

The Liberal Party will support the 2009/10 Federal Budget against the wishes of their coalition partners in the Bloc and NDP.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff says he is putting the government “on probation” with a budget amendment requiring the government to report back to Parliament in March, June and December.

Ignatieff refused to consult with the government on the creation of the budget, and the Liberals did not include any specific policy proposals in their budget amendment.

I did not consult him in advance, I see no obligation to … I told the Prime Minister very clearly: I’m the leader of the oppostion, he’s the Prime Minister. Its his budget, not mine.
- Michael Ignatieff

NDP leader Jack Layton and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe say the move effectively kills the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition.

Stephen Harper is going to remain in office because Michael Ignatieff has decided to to keep him there.

- Jack Layton

The coalition is dead, its finished, its over.

- Gilles Duceppe

Flaherty announces $34 billion deficit, prepared for more

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the Canadian government will return to deficit spending as he tables the first recession budget in over a decade.

The budget includes stimulus spending on infrastructure projects, a home renovation tax credit, and income tax cuts for those earning less than $80,000 per year.  The government is expected to run a deficit of $33.7 billion for the 2009-10 fiscal year and $29.8 billion in 2010/11.

Flaherty said the uncertain economic outlook may still get worse, and the government is prepared to for larger deficits if current forecasts prove optimistic.

The budget includes a plan to return spending to a surplus after 5 years, and promises any future surpluses would be used to pay off the debt accumulated from deficit spending during the recession.

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