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January 26, 2011

Harper makes budget deal with Separatists

CANADA - The minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper continues to cling to power and has made a $5 billion deal with the Bloc Quebecois for its support of the upcoming federal budget.

The Bloc Quebecois claims they've received a raw deal with respect to regional development to tax harmonization and wants an extra $5 billion in Quebec spending in return for propping up Stephen Harper's lame duck government.

The Conservatives are neck and neck with the Liberals and want to avoid an imminent election, which means seeking either NDP or Bloc support. The Liberals have refused to support major elements of the Conservative governmnet's spending and fiscal platforms.

The Bloc meanwhile is claiming foul, saying that B.C. and Ontario got better deals with HST tax deals (although some B.C. and Ontario residents would disagree, pointing out that they now pay slightly more taxes).

The Bloc is also claiming that disaster relief funding for Manitoba’s Red River flood in 1997 was unfair, because Quebec got no disaster relief funding for Quebec’s ice storm in 1998. (Seriously, they're complaining about events that happened 13 years ago.)

And last but not least, the Bloc is complaining that Alberta got huge tax breaks for Alberta’s oil sector and that Ontario got help for its struggling auto industry during the recession but little was done for Quebec's forestry industry.

And there is more complaints, some dating back as far as 1994.

Quebec already receives an extra $8 billion annually from the national equalization program.

The Bloc also wants equalization payments to Quebec doubled to $16 billion.

Harper's government doesn't have much choice but to agree to the Bloc's demands if he wants to avoid an election.

If Harper flip flops on these payments the Bloc are threatening to cause a federal election by refusing to support the budget.

“If the Harper government refuses to do justice to Quebecers, the Bloc will vote against this budget. If this causes a federal election, we’re ready for it," says Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe.

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