MPs approve federal budget
Harper government survives, Newfoundland and Labrador Liberals vote against
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 | 6:49 PM ET
The House of Commons passed the Conservative government’s budget Tuesday night by a 211 to 91 vote, ensuring the government’s survival.
The NDP and Bloc Québécois voted against the budget, while most of the Liberal party supported the Conservatives’ financial plan.
All six Liberal MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador voted against the budget. Four of them — Scott Andrews, Siobhan Coady, Judy Foote and Scott Simms — had argued the budget singles out their province and robs it of an estimated $1.6 billion in federal transfer payments. They said they would be breaking party ranks and opposing the budget in the vote.
The NDP clapped as the Newfoundland and Labrador MPs registered their nay votes while the Conservatives heckled them from across the floor.
There was little reaction from the Liberal members. Earlier Tuesday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said that he would allow the MPs from the province to break party ranks and have a one-time-only protest vote against the budget. Gerry Byrne and Todd Russell then joined their Liberal colleagues from the province and registered a vote against the budget on Tuesday night.
The budget promises billions of dollars in new spending — ranging from money for infrastructure projects to aid for worker training and cash for enhanced employment insurance benefits — to help the country ride out the global economic slump.
The budget forecasts a federal deficit of $33.7 billion for the 2009-10 fiscal year and $29.8 billion the following year.
The bill included a Liberal amendment, which passed through the House on Monday in a 214 to 84 vote. The NDP and Bloc also voted against it.
The amendment requires regular reports to Parliament on the budget’s implementation and costs. The reports are expected in March, June and December.
Each report would be an opportunity for the Opposition to express confidence in the government, Ignatieff said last week.
The Conservatives required the support of the Liberals to ensure the budget bill passed.
A defeat would have toppled the minority Tory government and possibly led to some kind of coalition government or another election.