Federal Budget 2010: Rise or Fall?

As you may or may not know, the budget speech is usually given in the late afternoon (so as not to influence markets, it is given after they’ve closed.) But now that we’ve heard the budget speech, what happens next? Does this mean this mean the legislative program for the next session has been set out with no discussion? What is the procedure?

At the conclusion of the Budget presentation by the Finance Minister, the Speaker recognizes a representative of the Official Opposition, usually the finance critic, who, after a brief speech, moves the adjournment of the debate. This motion is deemed adopted. In adjourning the debate, the Member reserves the right to speak first when debate on the motion resumes. The House is then adjourned.

Following the day of the Budget speech, the Standing Orders provide for a maximum of four additional days of debate on the Budget motion and any proposed amendments. The four days of debate do not have to be consecutive and, if few Members wish to speak, the debate can be less than four days.

According to the principle of responsible government, the government must enjoy the confidence of the House of Commons in order to govern legitimately. Since the Federal Conservatives are a minority government they will need the support of the opposition.

When budget debates are over the MPs will vote on whether or not they will support the budget and if they do not they may introduce a non-confidence motion. This motion, if adopted, indicates that the government no longer enjoys the support of a sufficient number of Members of the House to implement its policies, enact legislation or authorize expenditures from the public purse. The government then either resigns or requests that the Governor General dissolve Parliament and give orders for the issuing of election writs.

Keywords: budget