Warring Canadian leaders take to streets

December 7th, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Dec 7 (IANS) With Canadian opposition parties joining in a coalition to oust the just elected minority government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the two warring groups took their fight to the streets Saturday.Major Canadian cities witnessed pro and anti-coalition rallies, with each group blaming the other for precipitating the crisis just two months after the general elections in October.

In the 308-member House of Commons, the ruling Conservative Party is 12 seats short of the majority 155-mark.

The government’s failure not to announce a package to stimulate the recession-hit economy in its mini-budget last week led the three opposition parties to propose a no-confidence motion next week.

But Harper has managed to avert his ouster till next month by getting the House prorogued by Governor-General Michaelle Jean.

To protest against this decision, the opposition Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP) held rallies across Canada.

Addressing a joint rally in Toronto, Liberal leader Stephane Dion - who could be the new prime minister - and NDP leader Jack Layton blamed the prime minister for creating a national crisis to keep his job.

They reiterated their pledge to defeat the Conservative Party government at the first opportunity.

In Montreal, Gilles Duceppe, leader of Bloc Quebecois which will support the coalition only from outside, said Prime Minister Harper was turning Canada into a banana republic.

A big pro-government rally was staged in capital Ottawa where Conservative Party supporters converged on Parliament Hill in freezing temperatures.

In the prime minister’s hometown of Calgary, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the current crisis has roused the party’s grass roots.

Opinion polls show that 58 percent Canadians opposed the new coalition while 37 percent supported it.

The current crisis has increased public support for the ruling party to 45 percent from 38 percent during the Oct 14 elections.

On the other hand, support for both the Liberal Party and the NDP - which will from the new government if they win the no-confidence vote - has slipped marginally.

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