OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper lashed out at his parliamentary opponents on Thursday, saying they should have the courage to defeat the minority government rather than obstructing his agenda with “ridiculous political games.”
Harper’s Conservatives won a fragile hold on power in January 2006 and survived several confidence votes with support from the main opposition Liberal Party of Stephane Dion.
But the Liberals and other opposition parties have used their majority in Parliament to both block some Conservative initiatives and launch probes into what they said was wrongdoing by members of the ruling party.
Harper -- insisting his priority was to keep governing -- said when parliament resumed on September 15, he would be presenting bills that he regarded to be matters of confidence.
“What we will not allow is a situation where Mr Dion tries to say ‘Well, I won’t defeat you, but I won’t let you pass anything either’,” Harper told a televised news conference in Levis, Quebec.
“We’re going to come forward to Parliament this fall with some things we want to get done. We’re either going to get a mandate from Parliament to do those things or the Canadian population will decide.”
Canada’s next election is due to be held in October 2009. Opinion polls suggest that if a federal vote were held now, the result would be another minority Conservative government.
Harper told Conservatives on Thursday that “Mr Dion must fish or cut bait” but in reality, it is the opposition parties that will decide when and whether to try and defeat him.
“I don’t think (Canadians) believe that the purpose of Parliament is to hold a bunch of kangaroo courts or to do investigations into scandals that never occurred ... These are all ridiculous political games,” said Harper. “We will not allow this Parliament to be sabotaged.”
Dion is promising to bring in a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Liberals say the measure would be offset by cutting other taxes and also say Harper is mismanaging an economy increasingly hit by the U.S. slowdown.
“While the prime minister is busying himself with dares and threats, Liberals are focusing on our plan for a strong economy, a good quality of life for all Canadians, and (a) cleaner environment,” said Liberal spokesman Jean-Francois Del Torchio.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Frank McGurty