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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Does Stéphane Dion have any backbone?

When the Liberals, NDP and Bloc combined forces last week to push a bill through the minority Parliament - a bill that would allow taxpayers to deduct contributions made to their Registered Educational Savings Plans (RESPs), estimated to cost the government between $1 to $2 billion per year - they probably thought that they put the governing Tories between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Would Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the tax cutter and balanced budget champion, kill this tax cut or choose to run a deficit. Well, we found out the answer today:

Characterizing the measure as an irresponsible tax cut for the wealthy, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he would make a provision squashing the proposal as part of forthcoming legislation related to last month's budget.

"It runs the risk of putting the balanced budget of our government into a Liberal deficit," Mr. Flaherty said. "We are not going to run a deficit, so we are going to kill the bill."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's gambit puts dozens of Liberal MPs in the uncomfortable position of potentially reversing their support for a colleague in order to stick with Leader Stéphane Dion's decision last month to back the government's budget and avoid an election.
All this begs the question - will Stéphane Dion, the current leader of the Liberal Party, have the backbone to defeat the Conservatives on their budget and trigger an election?

Or will this be just another opportunity for him to back down?

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