Canadian government may seek to suspend Parliament: aide

Tue Dec 2, 2008 12:21pm EST
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By David Ljunggren and Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's minority Conservative government may seek the temporary suspension of Parliament to stop opposition parties from voting it out and taking power, an aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Tuesday.

The Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois signed a deal on Monday committing them to bringing down the government, just seven weeks after it won re-election with a strengthened minority, and forming coalition government to replace the Conservatives.

The opposition says Harper is not doing enough to tackle the financial crisis. Their formal agreement triggered one of the worst political crises in Canada's history. They propose forging a coalition of Liberals and New Democrats, with the Bloc promising its support.

The Harper aide, saying the proposed deal with the separatist Bloc Quebecois was "an affront to our democracy (and) incredibly dangerous" for Canada, told reporters that the government would fight the coalition plan "with every legal means at our disposal."

This could involve asking Governor General Michaelle Jean -- the personal representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state -- to temporarily suspend Parliament, he said.

Jean, who is in Prague on a state visit, said she would cut short her trip and fly back to Ottawa to try to resolve the crisis.

"I have decided that it is time for me now to go back home because my presence is required," she told Reuters. Earlier she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that the drama "certainly requires a lot of attention."

Jean mainly plays a figurehead role. That said, her word is final when dealing with constitutional matters.   Continued...

<p>Liberal leader Stephane Dion looks on as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa December 1, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>