ChrÃ©tien, Broadbent brokering possible coalition: reports
Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien and ex-NDP leader Ed Broadbent are reportedly talking about a potential coalition between the two parties, a day after the minority Conservatives delivered their first fiscal update since re-election six weeks ago.
The Canadian Press cited a senior NDP official as saying negotiations began Thursday soon after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty revealed the government's economic plans.
All three opposition parties — the New Democrats, Liberals and Bloc Québécois — have criticized the plan for not including a stimulus package to help boost Canada's slumping economy. It also contains a proposal to save money by cutting public subsidies for political parties and selling government assets.
According to the Canadian Press, the official says NDP Leader Jack Layton asked Broadbent to call Chrétien with hopes the two elder statesmen might finesse a deal for the two parties to defeat the minority government and form a coalition with support from the Bloc.
The NDP official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says the two former leaders spoke at least four times and will continue talking Friday.
The news agency also said an unnamed Liberal MP confirmed the talks were going on, and said Broadbent was having a morning meeting with Layton.
Tories defend mini-budget
Speaking to CBC News on Friday morning, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon didn't respond to reports of coalition talks but reiterated that his party won't back down in the face of opposition.
"We have come forward with our plan, with our fiscal and economic update and whatever happens we'll see what happens, but this is our position," said Cannon.
"We are willing and ready to defend that position no matter the outcome."
The conservatives sure know how to act like children and be irresponsible leaders.
He defended the lack of a stimulus package, saying Canada was "ahead of the curve" thanks to Conservative measures such as lowering the GST.
Flaherty's mini-budget proposes strict limits on federal spending, bans public-sector strikes through 2011 and denies federal parties about $30 million in annual funding.
Under the mini-budget, the government would also sell $2.3 billion in government assets and save another $2 billion by placing salary controls for public servants, MPs and senators.
Vote on package goes Monday
Cannon said the plan is indicative of the Conservatives' approach to "lead by example" and ensure everyone is living "according to our means."
The House of Commons is scheduled to vote on the package on Monday. If the opposition parties oppose the Conservative motion, they could topple the government and then request that the Governor General allow them to form a coalition government.
The Liberals were second in the Oct. 14 election with 77 seats to the Conservatives' 143, and would require the support of both the Bloc and New Democrats to form a coalition.
The Bloc holds 49 seats, the New Democrats have 37 and two MPs are Independents.
I would have posted this in the political section, but this kind of change in our government (If it does go through) is kinda a big thing I think.