Uncertain options for government

Fri Dec 5, 2008 6:34pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a rare request to suspend Parliament until January 26. The move cooled the immediate political crisis in Ottawa, and blocked, at least temporally, opposition efforts to replace the Conservatives with a coalition government. Here are some possible scenarios on what could happen next.

BUDGET WATCH

The prime minister has said the first order of business when Parliament returns will be the budget. Harper announced during the crisis that the new budget, with a focus on economic stimulus, would be introduced on January 27 instead of in late February or early March when it is normally unveiled.

The document will be a test of whether the minority Conservative government has managed to regain the confidence of the House of Commons, or if it again faces being defeated in a no-confidence vote.

The opposition Liberals say they are still committed to ousting the Conservatives unless Harper makes "monumental changes" and introduces a "real recovery plan" for the weakening Canadian economy.

Some polls indicated support for the Conservatives has strengthened during the political crisis even if many voters indicated they were not happy with Harper's handling of the dispute.

COALITION LEADERSHIP CHANGE

Polls showed voters are uneasy with the idea that Liberal leader Stephane Dion would become even a temporary prime minister under a coalition government. The Liberals did very poorly in the October 14, elections under Dion.

Dion has said he will step down in early May when a new leader is chosen, but discussion are reportedly under way to look into the possibility that a new leader with stronger public appeal can be chosen before then.   Continued...