Mon, Dec 08, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Pro, anti-Harper groups hold demonstrations

TAKING TO THE STREETSA recent opinion poll showed that 56 percent of Canadians favored a return to the polls rather than for the opposition to rule through a coalition

AFP , OTTAWA

Supporters and foes of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper demonstrated on Saturday in cities across Canada after a week of political crisis.

Harper on Thursday obtained an unprecedented shutdown of parliament, thwarting an opposition bid to unseat his ruling Conservatives and install a leftist coalition.

The coalition opposed to Harper groups the Liberals, New Democratic Party (NDP) and the separatist Bloc Quebecois.

They accused the Canadian prime minister of failing to shore up the Canadian economy, and were angered by a proposal — since withdrawn — to cut subsidies for political parties.

Harper attacked the opposition which had sought to bring a motion of no-confidence against the government today, saying the coalition was led by socialists and separatists.

Most Canadians backed Thursday’s move by Governor General Michaelle Jean to suspend parliament and avert the vote, an Ipsos poll found.

Some 56 percent of respondents said they would preferred to return to the polls rather than let the coalition take power.

The coalition hopes to topple the government when work resumes next month.

If Harper’s government collapses, it will be up to Jean to decide if she calls new general elections or gives the coalition a chance to govern.

The biggest demonstration on Saturday brought out 2,500 people in Calgary, Alberta.

In Toronto, about 2,000 people rallied with Liberal leader Stephane Dion and NDP chief Jack Layton.

“Harper took an economic crisis and added the parliamentary crisis, but he then tried to transform it into a national unity crisis — all of this because he cares more about his job than your jobs,” Dion said.

Layton added that Harper “by closing down parliament ... has silenced your voice. He has turned his back on the economy and on the people who are being thrown out of work.”

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