The result of Tuesday’s budget could well be a federal election, according to Abbotsford’s Member of Parliament.
“We’ll be on the hustings by Thursday or Friday,” predicted MP Ed Fast, saying the budget is an excuse for the opposition parties to bring down the Conservative minority government and force an election.
The Liberal opposition and the Bloc Quebecois have already said they would not support the budget. Soon after it was introduced, NDP leader Jack Layton said he could not back it either, meaning Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority government would not have enough support to avoid a non-confidence vote.
“I’m ready to go,” said Fast. “I think Canadians are ready to judge the opposition coalition for not focusing on the economy.”
He said the budget is intended to be geared to economic growth.
The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation issued a quick condemnation of the budget, which will result in a $29.6-billion deficit for the fiscal year beginning April 1.
However, Fast said the government has to balance the spending for economic stimulus with deficit reduction.
“We want a steady, measured return to balanced budgets,” he said, adding the government plans to run a surplus by 2015, which is “far ahead of the plan of any G7 countries.”
Some of the budget highlights include:
n A children’s arts tax credit means parents who spend $500 for music, visual arts or cultural programs for their child can get $75 back.
n Family caregivers, those looking after a dependent with a physical or mental disability, will receive a tax credit in 2012. It allows an additional tax credit of 15 per cent, on up to $2,000 in expenses, or $300 per year.
Hamish Telford, head of the political science department at UFV, said the attack ads that all parties have been running on television, “even the Greens,” were the surest sign an election was coming.
“At a certain point it almost becomes an inevitability. You can’t hype it up, and then not play the game.”
He suggested a majority government would be possible for Harper if the Conservatives can break through in key Southern Ontario ridings.
If the Conservatives truly don’t want an election, they can avoid it by modifying the budget to gain the support of the NDP.
If the other parties judge this is not the time to fight another election, they could allow the budget to pass by not sending enough MPs to Parliament to defeat it.
He judged on Wednesday that “we’re 90 per cent of the way to an election.”
Both the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Abbotsford chamber give the budget favourable reviews. The budget is good for business, said the local chamber.
“The government has made a solid commitment to let business lead the economic recovery as opposed to stimulus spending.
“This is really good news and a positive response to the collective call of the Canadian chamber’s pre-budget submissions of which our chamber was very engaged,” said Abbotsford chamber board chair Patricia Sapielak in a press release.
“Clearly the economic recovery is well entrenched and the federal government is enjoying a brighter fiscal outlook,” she said. “The government is predicting a bit of a softening in the medium term however the plan to return to a surplus budget in fiscal 2015-16 is still on track, and that is good news for Canada.”