Canadian Government Plans To Implement Budget Before Summer Break
OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservative government intends to move quickly to implement its fiscal package before the summer break, House Leader Peter Van Loan said on Thursday.
Thursday is the first day of Parliament following the May 2 election, which saw the Conservatives returned to power with a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, meaning they no longer need opposition support to pass legislation.
The House will sit for only three weeks before adjourning until September, and Van Loan said the government aims to push through its fiscal package, as well as a budget implementation bill, this month.
"Our top legislative priority will be the passing of the budget," Van Loan, who runs the government's agenda in the House, told reporters.
He said the government's focus will be on jobs and growth, and staying the low-tax fiscal course.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will present the budget in the House of Commons on Monday. He has said it will be largely the same as the one he introduced in March. The minority government was brought down before that one could be passed.
The budget will include plans to eliminate the deficit in the next few years, boost public pensions for low-income seniors, subsidize efforts to make homes more energy efficient and give hiring credits to small businesses.
A new measure in the budget will be a plan to phase out federal per-vote subsidies of political parties. An attempt to do this in 2008 triggered a revolt by opposition groups, which will be hurt more than the Conservatives because they are less successful in raising funds from the grass roots.
The government also plans to introduce legislation in the next few weeks to limit the terms of Senators, who currently are appointed to serve until age 75.
And it plans a bill to change the distribution of House seats to give more equal representation to areas of faster population growth, especially British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. It would dilute the weight of Quebec, always a sensitive topic because of separatist pressures there.
Other plans, Van Loan said, are to craft a comprehensive law-and-order bill, while also eliminating a registry of long guns. The Conservatives say the registry of rifles and shotguns unfairly targets farmers and hunters. Supporters of the registry say it is a useful tool in preventing murders and helping police with investigations.
He also confirmed the government would go ahead with plans to legislate an end to the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on the marketing of wheat and barley from Western Canada. This is not expected to take place until August 2012.
(Editing by Rob Wilson)
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