Showdown next Friday could prompt Canada election

Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:10am EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - A potential double showdown next Friday will determine whether Canada will head into an early election, a government official said on Friday.

The minority Conservatives, who won last October's election, will face a vote on routine financial measures and could also face a non-confidence motion on that day brought forward by the main opposition Liberal Party.

Defeat for the government on either issue would trigger a new election as early as late July.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has not decided whether to try to bring down the government, spokeswoman Jill Fairbrother said, and will likely announce his plans next Monday.

The Liberals will be able to set part of the Parliamentary agenda next Friday and Conservative spokesman Zachary Healy said a vote on whatever motion the Liberals choose to bring forward is scheduled to take place in the afternoon or evening. That would be followed by the vote on the financial measures -- assuming the government is not brought down beforehand.

All three opposition parties would have to join forces in sufficient numbers to topple the Conservatives. Opposition parties have 161 legislators in the House of Commons while the Conservatives have 143. There is one independent, who normally sides with the government.

If the government fell on June 19, the earliest and most likely date for an election would be July 27. Prime Minister Stephen Harper could seek a later date, but campaigns normally run for five weeks only, the minimum required by law.

Opinion polls put the Liberals ahead of the Conservatives, but not with a wide enough margin to assure a victory. If the polls are right, no party would win a majority of seats.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson)

 
<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper outlines his government's progress on their economic action plan during a town hall meeting at the Armenian Community Centre in Cambridge, Ontario, June 11, 2009. REUTERS/Geoff Robins</p>