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Feb 27,2009
Harper: Stimulus spending needs fast track
by UPI

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked Parliament to let him bypass normal approvals to release of $3 billion in immediately stimulus spending.

Harper, whose Conservative Party holds a minority Parliament position, said lawmakers needed to take shortcuts, including not knowing the spending's details in advance, to fast-track a needed short-term cash infusion between April and June.

Under normal procedures, lawmakers review the details, a process that wouldn't release the interim money until June, The Globe and Mail reported.

Opposition Liberal Party Finance Critic John McCallum, from Ontario's Markham-Unionville federal and provincial electoral district, called the funding proposal a "blank check" and New Democratic Party counterpart Thomas Mulcair, from Quebec's Outremont federal district, equated it to a "slush fund," the newspaper said.

Harper told reporters in Vancouver, British Columbia, "The opposition has asked us to provide mechanisms by which we can flow funds far faster than we have been able to traditionally."

"We are not going to mess around with this," he said. "We have our bureaucrats working overtime to make sure we cut red tape and get this money flowing quickly. If the opposition doesn't like it, they will find themselves in an election."

Harper's comments Thursday came a day after Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty warned Conservatives expect some stimulus-spending foul-ups as they disburse it quickly, which The Globe and Mail described as "a frank admission from a party that once marketed itself as the sworn enemy of wasteful spending."

Parliament is to vote on the measure March 26.

© 2009 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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