Canadian PM buys time to save his government

December 5th, 2008 - 10:17 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Dec 5 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Thursday managed to buy time for his government which faces ouster by a combined opposition in a vote of confidence.Harper managed to convince Governor-General Michaelle Jean to prorogue parliament till Jan 26, enabling his Conservative Party government to avoid a defeat in a vote of confidence next week.

The opposition Liberal Party has joined with the smaller New Democratic Party (NDP) to form a new government with outside support from the separatist Bloc Quebecois which wants Quebec province to secede from Canada.

The prime minister’s party was voted back into power just two months ago, but 12 short of the majority mark of 155 seats in the 308-member House of Commons.

The crisis has been precipitated by the government’s failure to announce a package to stimulate the economy in its mini-budget last week.

During his two-hour meeting with the governor-general, Harper convinced her to prorogue the House till next month, thus dealing a blow to the opposition to replace him as early as next week.

After the meeting, the prime minister said he would now concentrate to include an economic package in the full budget due next month.

Fuming at the suspension of the parliament session, Liberal leader Stephane Dion, who would be the new prime minister if the government is defeated, said: “For the first time in the history of Canada, the prime minister of Canada is running away from the parliament of Canada.”

Dion, who led the Liberal Party to a disastrous showing in the October elections and is slated to step down in May, also suffered a setback when a party MP Thursday questioned his credentials to be prime minister.

Toronto-area MP Jim Karygiannis said: “To become prime minister at all costs? Where do we take the Liberal brand? The brand got hit. The brand is good. The CEO of the company screwed up.”

He said he wanted the coalition to continue, but his constituents want “Mr Dion to go.”

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