Harper government survives first budget vote in Parliament

Harper government survives first budget vote in Parliament

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government has survived its first confidence test of the new session of Parliament.

The House of Commons voted 214-84 on Tuesday to reject a Bloc Quebecois amendment to the federal budget.

That amendment would have forced the government to stop tax benefits to the oil industry and use the money to compensate Quebec for the Harmonized Sales Tax and improve EI benefits, among other things.

Only the Bloc and NDP supported the proposed change.

Earlier, the House overwhelmingly voted down an NDP sub-amendment that included eliminating tax benefits to all big corporations and protecting pensions. Only the NDP supported that change.

The Liberals, who are not pushing for a spring election, didn't bother to introduce an amendment of their own.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has said Canadians don't want an election and he won't force one until they do.

A new poll suggests the Conservatives hold a slight lead over the Liberals after weeks of deadlock.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey put Conservative support at 33 per cent and the Liberals at 29. The NDP was well back at 16.

The results are a turnaround for the Tories who saw their support drop sharply after Harper's controversial decision to prorogue Parliament in late December. The move delayed the return of Parliament by six weeks as the government faced tough questions over the Afghan detainee controversy.

Harris-Decima's Allan Gregg says the national Tory uptick in the poll can be attributed almost completely to British Columbia, where voter volatility remains high.

The poll surveyed 2,936 people by telephone from Feb. 25 to March 7, a sample size that provides a national margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Press

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