Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion says his party is open to supporting the upcoming Conservative budget if it doesn't "compromise" Liberal values, a decision that could extend the life of the minority government until the fall or perhaps even 2008.
"When you come to a situation to say, `Well, this budget is not as good as what we would have done but, you know, under the circumstances, we did our best to improve what Mr. Harper wanted to do and we may vote for it,'" the Liberal leader said on CTV's Question Period.
He noted that it was Bloc Québécois MPs who supported the first Conservative budget, unveiled last May.
"This year, will it be us? Will it be the Bloc? Will it be the NDP? Nobody knows," Dion said.
But the Conservatives face trouble on another issue – a rejigging of the equalization formula that could violate their campaign pledge to exempt resource revenues from the calculations.
The new formula could pump $1 billion more into Quebec but would cost Saskatchewan up to $800 million, leading to an angry charge that Harper is trying to "buy" votes in Quebec.
It's usually no problem for a minority government to get one budget passed, unless that government happens to be Joe Clark's. Two budgets requires a fair amount of political adroitness.
But who knows? Stephane Dion is withering already under the media spotlight. His post-convention bounce, like all such bounces, has stopped cold after a few weeks. The Liberals still are trying to find a way to get ordinary members to donate in large enough numbers to offset the caps on corporate donations.
All of this could change, of course, but it won't change before March 20.
There will be no election fought on this budget.
Count on it.
Source: Toronto Star