Battle lines are drawn as election campaign kicks off – Metro US

Battle lines are drawn as election campaign kicks off

And we’re off.

Opposition parties toppled the Rodney MacDonald government in a legislative vote yesterday. The 28-20 defeat kicked off a spring election campaign likely to end June 9.

(UPDATE: Election has been called for June 9.)

The timing was dramatic — the provincial government fell just one minute before the house was set to adjourn for the day — but the vote outcome was never in doubt.

The Tories had spent most of the day unveiling their new budget, which will now never be voted on. The government had committed to spending $260 million in offshore money to keep the 2008-09 and 2009-10 budgets balanced.

To do that, they needed to change finance laws first. Both opposition parties had said for days that they would not support the change. The amendment came up for a confidence vote and, as expected, both the NDP and Liberals voted against it, triggering an election.

The campaigning kicked off moments later.

“I’m not surprised,” said Premier MacDonald of being defeated.

“The opposition had been indicating for days that this is the direction that they want to go in. They’re more interested, quite frankly, in an election than they are what’s right for the people of the province.”

MacDonald said the only alternative to spending the money was going into deficit or cutting programs. He challenged the opposition to say which they would do.

Opposition leaders called that nonsense. They said the government has already put the province in deficit. The Tory budget revealed the provincial debt had grown $177 million last year to $12.3 billion.

“This was the kind of old-style Conservative economic planning that we saw in years gone by,” said NDP Leader Darrell Dexter. “It’s the idea that somehow the road to prosperity is through debt.”

MacDonald will speak with the Lieutenant Governor today to officially call the election.