Canada government survives as opposition coalition dies

Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:20pm EST
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative Party looked set to continue in power for the near term at least on Wednesday after an opposition coalition that sought to replace the minority government collapsed.

The main opposition Liberal Party announced its conditional support for the government's 2009 budget and economic stimulus plan, allowing the Conservatives to survive, and killing off the opposition parties' plan to install a coalition government.

"The coalition is dead, it's finished, it's over," said Gilles Duceppe, leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, one of the three parties that had signed an agreement last month to topple Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government at the first opportunity.

The coalition idea had proved unpopular with the electorate and the cash-strapped Liberals appeared unwilling to risk the alternative, a fourth election in five years, if they brought down the government, which was just reelected in October.

"Canadians don't want another election, and they're tired of political games," the new Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, told a news conference. He said the government's deficit-laden budget, released on Tuesday, responded to the needs of the present.

"What (Canadians) want from me is political action that shows a sense of responsibility and I'm trying to do that," Ignatieff said.

He said he would present an amendment to the main budget motion on Wednesday afternoon requiring the government to report back on its budget implementation in March, June and December.

"We are putting this government on probation," Ignatieff said. "Each of these reports will be an opportunity to withdraw our confidence should the government fail Canadians...We will be watching like hawks to make sure the investments Canadians need actually reach them."   Continued...