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Canadian Opposition Parties to Overthrow Government

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:inquisitive: As if economic turmoil wasn't bad enough...


NDP, Liberals reach deal to topple minority Tory government


Last Updated: Sunday, November 30, 2008 | 9:51 PM ET


The NDP and Liberals have reached a deal to topple the minority Conservative government and take power themselves in a coalition, CBC News has learned.


A deal has been negotiated between NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion that would see them form a coalition government for two and a half years, the CBC's Keith Boag reported, citing sources.


The NDP would be invited into cabinet and get 25 per cent of seats, Boag said, adding that the party wouldn't get the position of the finance chair or the deputy prime minister's post.


"That's the big step forward tonight," Boag reported.

The Bloc Québécois wouldn't be a part of the coalition, but would have to support it, he said.


"The most difficult question is who'll be the leader," Boag said, adding that Dion, who negotiated the deal, believes he has the right to be prime minister.

Opposition parties say they have lost confidence in the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper after Thursday's economic update by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty failed to provide a stimulus package for Canadians.


Since then, the Liberals have been in negotiations to form a coalition with the NDP, and the concessions made by the Conservatives this weekend have done nothing to change the party's view that Harper must go.

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Canada halts parliament amid row




Stephen Harper: "On my advice, the Governor-General has agreed to prorogue Parliament"


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a bid to suspend parliament, blocking an opposition attempt to topple his minority government.

The governor general agreed to Mr Harper's request, unprecedented in the country, after talks.

If the request had been rejected, he would have had to step down or face a confidence vote he was sure to lose.

Opposition parties had called the vote for Monday, accusing the government of failing to shore up the economy.

Governor General Michaelle Jean agreed to prorogue - or suspend - parliament until 26 January when the government is set to present its economic plan.

Ms Jean - the representative of head of state Queen Elizabeth II - has the right to make a final decision on such matters.

"Today's decision will give us an opportunity - I'm talking about all the parties - to focus on the economy and work together," Mr Harper said after the two-and-a-half-hour private meeting.



start_quote_rb.gifFor the first time in the history of Canada the prime minister is running away from the parliament of Canada end_quote_rb.gif



Stephane Dion

Liberal leader


The Conservatives immediately shut down parliament, ending all debate. The head of the main Liberal opposition party, Stephane Dion, said he was still committed to bringing down Mr Harper's government unless he makes a "monumental change" in dealing with the economy and other parties.

"For the first time in the history of Canada the prime minister is running away from the parliament of Canada," Mr Dion was quoted as saying by AP news agency.

Opposition New Democrat leader Jack Layton called it a sad day.

"He's trying to lock the door of parliament so that the elected people cannot speak," Mr Layton said. "He's trying to save his job."

Political drama

A prime minister's request to temporarily suspend parliament had never been turned down, but nor had such a request been made when the government was certain to lose a confidence vote.

"There is no precedent whatsoever in Canada and probably in the Commonwealth," constitutional expert Ned Franks told AP news agency. "We are in uncharted territory."


o.gifstart_quote_rb.gifAt a time like this, a coalition with separatists cannot help Canada end_quote_rb.gif



Stephen Harper

Canadian Prime Minister


The prime minister's manoeuvre comes at the end of a week of unprecedented political drama, says the BBC's Lee Carter in Toronto.

The constitutional crisis was triggered last week after the Conservatives presented a fiscal update that was angrily rejected by the opposition parties for not including an economic stimulus package and for proposing cuts to the public financing of political parties.

The Liberals and New Democrats signed a deal to defeat Mr Harper in a confidence vote scheduled for Monday and to form a coalition government.

Mr Harper's Conservatives won a strengthened minority in the 14 October election but are outnumbered in parliament by the combination of the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois.

'Backroom deal'

In a televised appeal on Wednesday, Mr Harper said the opposition pact was a threat to the country's democracy and economy.


_45269623_fac3bcb4-6eab-4876-891d-2be534f552a0.jpg Acting head of state Michaelle Jean makes final decisions on such matters


"At a time like this, a coalition with separatists cannot help Canada," he said, referring to the Bloc's desire for independence for Quebec.

"Tonight, I pledge to you that Canada's government will use every legal means at our disposal to protect our democracy, to protect our economy and to protect Canada."

Mr Harper called the opposition parties' power-sharing agreement a "backroom deal".

Ms Jean cut short a trip to Europe on Wednesday and flew back to Ottawa in an effort to deal with the growing political crisis after the three opposition parties formally advised her of their plan.

Ms Jean's other options were to have called a general election if the confidence vote went ahead and Mr Harper lost, or to have asked the opposition to form a new government. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7765206.stm

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Political crisis offers some lighter moments

Posted: December 04, 2008, 6:23 PM by Ronald Nurwisah

By Julie Smyth


Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a new, soft, breathy voice when he delivered his address to the nation Wednesday night. The breathy voice was gone when he spoke to the press after his meeting with the Governor General. Nobody is saying for sure, but there are heavy suspicions that he had a professional coach helping with the television delivery. One party insider noted it seemed like a coaching job, with an attempt at a calm and measured delivery on air. But it is a voice that seemed so unusual, so out of place, it has not been repeated.

(Click on photo to watch the video)



Stéphane Dion’s televised address to the nation was a disaster on many levels. The tape arrived nearly one hour late, leaving networks scrambling to fill air time after Mr. Harper spoke. The Liberal party was meant to send two tapes - English and French - but sent only one tape. It was an amateur job, recorded in DVD mini-camera format and unsuitable for broadcast. It arrived so late, CTV had switched programming and never aired Mr. Dion’s statement. The Liberal Party was left embarrassed, apologizing and searching for who was behind the screw-ups.


Also, Mr. Dion’s backdrop for his recorded speech: A bookshelf - and in the bottom left corner, political columnist Jeffrey Simpson’s book on the environment. The title: Hot Air. Conservatives joked it was a fitting choice.

(Click photo to watch Dion's video)


The whole tape fiasco, and resulting bad PR, has given Mr. Dion’s critics ammunition to ask: And this man wants to lead the country?



What did this short session of Parliament achieve? Not much, is the simple answer. An examination by Canwest librarian Kirsten Smith shows all MPs did was vote on a Speaker, debate the Throne Speech, hear the economic debate, discuss and argue over the economic update, then go home. There was no private members’ business. There were no government bills, no emergency debates. A bill introduced on Wednesday on the Arctic has died before ever reaching discussion. It will have to be reintroduced in January. There was not even a recorded vote on the Throne Speech - they passed it by shouting out. Only one committee sat for, at the most, three sessions. This 40th Parliament started on November 18 and lasted 16 days.



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