Federal mini-budget vote passes, Liberals abstain

CanWest News Service
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OTTAWA - The Liberal party passed on another opportunity to bring down the Conservative government on Wednesday when its members abstained on a confidence vote related to Tuesdays economic update.

OTTAWA - The Liberal party passed on another opportunity to bring down the Conservative government on Wednesday when its members abstained on a confidence vote related to Tuesdays economic update.

The Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party both opposed the motion that would enact the tax and other fiscal measures promised by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as part of his fall economic update Tuesday.

But, with the Liberals declining to vote, the motion passed with a tally of 127 to 76.

All motions introduced by the government that involve money are confidence matters, meaning they must pass a vote in the Commons. If they fail, an election could be triggered.

Flahertys update, or mini-budget as some observers are calling it, included a promise to cut the GST from six to five per cent, along with cuts to personal income and corporate tax rates, adding up to about $60 billion in savings over the next five years.

Abstaining from the vote is a compassionate move, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion told reporters following a caucus meeting Wednesday morning.

Yes, we will be abstaining for the good sake of Canada. It is not a good declaration. It is not sending the country in a good direction, he said.

We are the party of compassion, the party of Kelowna for aboriginals, the party that wants to put the fight against poverty at the core of the agenda. We want to invest in Canadians and families, seniors, in regions, and there is no good balance in this declaration of the minister of finance about investing in Canadians and tax cuts, he said.

Dion also told reporters that the Liberals would consider reversing the GST and other tax cuts if they were in power and that the cuts will be an issue of debate in the next campaign.

The economic update was a topic of discussion in question period in the Commons Wednesday afternoon, with Flaherty rising to his feet several times to defend it.

The NDP voted against the economic update because the party believes the government is rushing through with reckless fiscal policies that would widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

Organizations: New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebecois

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Canada, Kelowna

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