Quebec opposition parties threaten to...

Quebec opposition parties threaten to topple PQ government over budget

Posted in the Georgetown Forum

That cost the taxpayer

North Bay, Canada

#1 Nov 20, 2012
Quebec opposition parties threaten to topple PQ government over budget
Published 22 minutes ago Share on twitterShare on facebook

Andy Blatchford
The Canadian Press

QUEBEC—The life of the new Parti Québécois government is hanging in the balance as opposition parties threaten to vote against its first budget, a move that would likely send Quebecers back to the polls.

The minority PQ’s 2013-14 economic blueprint came under fire Tuesday from opposition parties shortly before it was tabled in the legislature.

If the budget fails to pass a vote, the PQ government, which holds just a four-seat lead in the legislature, could fall about three months after it came to power.

An income-tax increase included in the budget for the province’s higher earners is one of the main concerns for both the official Opposition Liberals and the Coalition party.

The signals from the opposition benches will no doubt spark a flurry of negotiations in the coming days in order to avoid what would be a highly unpopular election.

Coalition Leader François Legault was categoric in his reaction to the budget.

He insisted that all 19 members of the right-of-centre party would be present in the national assembly to vote against the budget unless major amendments are made, particularly the income-tax hike on those who earn more than $100,000.

“If it brings us to an election, then it brings us to an election,” Legault said before dismissing any chance his party would seek to form a coalition government with the Liberals.

Former Liberal finance minister Raymond Bachand said he opposed the budget, but indicated it would be up to his caucus to decide later Tuesday whether the party would ultimately support it.

The Liberals, who lost power to the PQ in September, are in the middle of a leadership contest to replace Jean Charest. They are likely keen to avoid triggering an election.

“I’m giving you part of the answer: we will vote against it,” Bachand said.

“Right now, there is a minority government and so our votes have consequences and we must be responsible.”

It is possible that only some of the Liberals’ 50 MNAs would show up for the vote.

Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau called the budget “rigorous” and said he believed it would be passed.

“I have lots of difficulty believing that the opposition parties could reject this budget,” he said.

The budget will see the province eliminate its deficit during 2013-14. The projection keeps the province in line with a pledge made by the previous Liberal government.

To reach its goal, Premier Pauline Marois’ government introduced several measures, such as capping annual infrastructure expenditures, cutting back increases on program spending and raising taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

With just a slim majority in the legislature, Marois will need support from at least one rival for her budget to pass

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