Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Canada's opposition lawmaker launches plan to oust liberals

AFP , OTTAWA

A Canadian opposition lawmaker called for a February election on Thursday, launching a multiparty plan to force Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberals from office.

Jack Layton, the leader of the New Democratic Party, tabled his proposal in Parliament to hold an election on Feb. 13.

The motion was largely a formality and widely expected as all three opposition parties, wary of interrupting voters' holiday festivities, had agreed to table it this week to delay an election until the new year, but before March or April as Martin had planned.

Martin, flying to South Korea for an APEC meeting, had already rejected it.

"I haven't given it a moment's thought," Martin told reporters aboard his jet.

Martin's Liberals have only 133 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, but managed to hold onto power by making a deal with the New Democratic Party, and with the support of a handful of independent members of parliament.

Martin pledged to hold an election 30 days after the release of a final report on a government funding scandal involving the previous Liberal government, expected in February.

But Layton withdrew his support for the Liberals last week after the release of a damning preliminary report on the scandal in which millions were given to Liberal-friendly advertising firms and kickbacks were paid to the Liberal Party.

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