His comment comes as Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has teed up legislation aimed at making elements of her fiscal update a reality — but if that legislation fails, it could trigger a federal election.
“We certainly don’t want one. We want to get these supports out to Canadians, and there are certainly things in this fall economic statement that every party should be able to support in terms of helping Canadians.”
But with early reaction from members of the opposition indicating some pushback to the fiscal proposals the Liberals pitched on Monday, any legislation to implement those plans can’t be viewed as a shoo-in when the House of Commons vote ultimately takes place.
“Canadians are hurting,” said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole in the wake of the Liberal’s fiscal update on Monday.
“Canadians want their lives back and this fall economic statement shows they cannot rely on this federal government to get their lives back.”
When a minority government — like the current one — faces a vote on a bill that deals with government spending, a confidence vote is triggered. That means that if the government’s plans are quashed by opposition votes, the government is expected to resign or dissolve parliament.
Both those actions could trigger a federal election.
The government signalled its intention on Tuesday’s notice paper to introduce a bill that would “implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures.”
Many of those measures would involve new government spending, and if that’s the case, the Liberal will need to shore up their opposition support ahead of the vote to avoid a country-wide trip to the polls.
The government will need help from one party to pass its bill.
Speaking in a Tuesday press conference, Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said he couldn’t say whether his party would support the bill yet.
“It starts by reading it. We just got the bill late yesterday,” Poilievre said.
“We want to make sure the bill does what the government says before we commit our position, but we will be looking over every word, every comma, every period and we will find out what’s in the bill then state our position.”
The NDP’s finance critic, Peter Julian, also shared his less than enthusiastic reaction to the government’s fiscal update in the House on Monday. He insisted that the government make its temporary support programs more permanent — something NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also called for earlier that same day.
Julian said this is where he and the NDP are disappointed with the fall economic statement. “We believe that those supports need to be continued.”
“There needs to be a sense that all Canadians matter, that we can all come through this pandemic, and that, coming out of the pandemic, we can actually put in place a very solid foundation for Canadians in the future, Julian said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also tweeted his displeasure when it comes to the government’s child care pledge, which the Liberals said would be explained in further detail in next year’s budget.
“The Liberals started promising child care almost 30 years ago. Today, we watched them break their promise for accessible & affordable child care once again,” Singh wrote.
The Bloc Quebecois has also expressed displeasure with the fiscal update, pinpointing the fact that the federal government didn’t increase health-care transfers to provinces.
“This government has presented an economic update and proposed a stimulus plan, but it has proposed nothing for health transfers, even though an increase in those transfers is the main demand of the provinces and Quebec,” said Bloc Québécois House leader Alain Therrien, reacting to the fiscal update in the House on Monday.
“The government has no regard whatsoever for what the provinces and Quebec are going through right now.”
While the Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said her party looks to collaborate with other parties wherever possible, her reaction to the fiscal update also signalled a desire for the government to push harder for a green recovery.
“We have to underline that it is possible for us to respond to this pandemic in an aggressive, robust and effective way while at the same time planning for our post-pandemic future,” Paul said.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for the government to find itself a dancing partner. The legislation could be tabled as early as this week, meaning a vote is looming — and with that vote, comes the risk that the government could fall.