Canadian Manufacturing

Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois to propose budget rewrites as debate starts

Both O'Toole and Blanchet said their parties are prepared to vote against the budget.

April 20, 2021  The Canadian Press

Opposition parties will get a chance on Apr. 20 to propose a rewrite to the federal government’s massive pandemic budget.

Debate on Apr. 19’s budget begins on Apr. 20 in the House of Commons.

As the official Opposition, the Conservatives will propose an amendment to the budget and the Bloc Quebecois, as the third-largest party, will propose a sub-amendment.

Both intend to use the opportunity to fashion an economic blueprint more to their liking.

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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has signalled that his party will propose its own economic recovery plan, while Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has indicated that his party will attempt to redress what it sees as two “unacceptable omissions” in the budget: the failure to accede to premiers’ demand for an additional $28 billion each year in health-care transfer payments and the failure to provide increased old age security benefits for all seniors.

Votes on the amendment and sub-amendment will come later in the week and, depending on their wording, could be deemed a test of confidence in Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government.

However, with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh promising that his party won’t do anything to trigger an election in the midst of the deadly third wave of COVID-19, there is little chance the government will fall.

O’Toole said on Apr. 19 that the NDP’s pledge to prop up the government on budget votes frees up his party “to actually show how much Mr. Trudeau has missed the mark, propose some amendments that we may be able to secure support from other parties on.”

“The Conservatives will be proposing amendments and our own policies because we feel this falls so incredibly short,” he said.

Both O’Toole and Blanchet said their parties are prepared to vote against the budget, but it was not clear on Apr. 19 whether either party’s proposed amendments will include an explicit statement of non-confidence in the government.

Starting Apr. 21, all cabinet ministers will be pressed into service, hosting events and giving speeches in their regions to extoll the virtues of the budget. They’ll start on Apr. 21 with a focus on the child care initiative and zero in on other themes in the budget on subsequent days.