Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Harper government faces no-confidence vote

AFP , OTTAWA

Canada’s minority government will submit to a no-confidence vote on Friday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Monday, raising the possibility of a fourth election in five years for Canadians.

“I just filed the notice of ways and means motion, which is scheduled to be voted on Friday,” Flaherty told reporters in Ottawa.

The motion is technically a measure that seeks implementation of budget proposals from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, but it effectively amounts to a confidence vote and an important test for both his government and the opposition Liberal Party.

Harper’s decision to submit the government to the test came on parliament’s first day back in session, two weeks after the Liberal Party announced it would withdraw its support from the conservative government and seek to topple it.

But to successfully force Harper’s government out, the Liberals need support from the two top opposition parties — the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party (NDP).

The Liberals are likely to win support from Bloc Quebecois, but the NDP seems disinclined to help topple the government, particularly as public opinion polls show Canadians are reluctant to go to the polls again, for the fourth time in five years.

Harper’s Conservative Party may also have swung momentum in their favor by announcing earlier on Monday new legislation that would improve unemployment benefits for some 190,000 workers.

The legislation was relatively well received by the NDP, whose party chief Jack Layton described it as “a step in the right direction.”

“There is much more that needs to be done as well,” he said.

However, he added: “Our preference remains fighting for the unemployed rather than fighting for a second election.”

The issue of eligibility for unemployment benefits has been a key question, with the Liberal Party, led by Michael Ignatieff, citing Harper’s previous hardline position in its decision to withdraw support for his government.

The Conservative Party’s apparent U-turn on Monday allowed Harper to undercut that criticism and call for unity.

“The public’s No. 1 concern is the economy. It is certainly not an election,” he said.

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