Canadians want budget passed: Poll
By Andrew Mayeda, Canwest News ServiceJanuary 26, 2009 3:01 PM
OTTAWA— Tuesday's federal budget is poised to plunge Canada into deficit for the first time in more than a decade, but nearly six in 10 Canadians hope it will pass, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll.
Fifty-seven per cent of Canadians want the opposition parties to vote for the budget, according to the poll, conducted exclusively for Canwest News Service and Global National.
By contrast, 30 per cent believe the opposition should defeat the budget, while 13 per cent are unsure.
"People want the budget to pass because they're generally in tune with what the government is going to try to do with the deficit — they're not shocked by it," said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Reid Public Affairs.
The Liberals and NDP threatened to topple the Harper government last month with their proposal to form a coalition backed by the Bloc Quebecois. Prime Minister Stephen Harper staved off defeat by convincing Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to suspend Parliament on Dec. 4.
Parliament reconvened Monday after a seven-week break, and the first test for the government will be Tuesday's budget. It is automatically considered a matter of confidence, meaning a defeat would bring down the government.
If that happens, Jean would have to decide whether to call the fourth general election in less than five years, or grant the coalition a chance to govern. But with economists warning of a deep recession, few Canadians are in the mood for another election or the prospect of a coalition taking power, said Bricker.
"They don't want an election and they don't want political instability," he said.
Government officials have revealed that the budget will push the federal treasury into a $34-billion hole next year and $30 billion the following year — the first federal deficits since the Liberals balanced the books in the late 1990s.
Tuesday's budget will forecast that it will take five years for the government to balance the books again.
Albertans are most likely to want the budget to pass, with 66 per cent wanting the opposition to support it. Saskatchewan and Manitoba are next, both at 65 per cent, followed by Ontario at 61 per cent and British Columbia at 59 per cent.
Forty-six per cent of Quebecers want the opposition to support the budget, while only 45 per cent of those in Atlantic Canada hope it passes.
Both the NDP and Bloc have strongly suggested they will vote against the budget.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has offered only broad conditions for his party's support, and party insiders say it is all but certain the Grits will let the budget pass. Nevertheless, Ignatieff has publicly held out the possibility that the Liberals might bring down the government.
Liberal MP John McCallum warned this weekend that his party would not support permanent tax cuts that would inhibit the government's ability to get back into the black. Harper said last week the budget will contain some permanent tax measures.
The poll, conducted by phone Jan. 20 to 22, contacted 1,000 randomly selected adult Canadians. It is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Regional margins of error are larger.