Belinda Stronach is the new Human Resources Development Minister of Canada

In an explosive development leading up to Thursday`s dramatic budget vote, Conservative MP Belinda Stronach has crossed the floor to join the Liberal Party as the new Human Resources Development Minister.

The stunning move could be a blow to the Tories` hopes of defeating the government Thursday and triggering a federal election, because it will lower the hair-thin Conservative-Bloc lead in the seat count. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said the party was "devastated" and "betrayed."

Prime Minister &to=http:// 20/91/368/11789_latinAmerica.html ' target=_blank>Paul Martin said he met with Ms. Stronach — who had been an outspoken and moderate Conservative - for a private dinner at 24 Sussex Dr. Monday evening and after a lengthy discussion, Ms. Stronach said she felt confident that leaving the Tories was the right decision, publishes the Guardian Unlimited.

According to CTV, a vote will be held in the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>House of Commons on Thursday on the budget. If defeated, it would trigger an election, because any money bill is considered a vote of confidence in the government.

Stronach also said she didn`t think Harper is "truly sensitive" to the needs and the complexities of Canada.

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