Canadian ruling party set for showdown on Thursday

Sun Sep 27, 2009 12:02pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's minority Conservative government is set for a showdown with the opposition Liberal Party on Thursday that could send the country back to the polls for the fourth time in just over five years.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office announced on Sunday the Conservative leader would on Monday present the third quarterly report card on what he is doing to pull Canada out of recession.

The substance of the report is not as important as the fact that under an agreement Parliament has reached, it will trigger an opportunity for the Liberals to try to topple the government on Thursday in a motion of nonconfidence.

The Liberals, the largest of three opposition parties, decided in early September to try to unseat the government at the first opportunity.

"We have lost confidence in this government. We will proceed with a motion," Liberal spokeswoman Jill Fairbrother said. "It's up to the Bloc or the NDP to support them or not."

She was referring to the other two opposition groups, the separatist Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party (NDP). If even one of these smaller parties sides with the government, an election will be averted.

Although both the Bloc and the NDP are on the left, they backed the Conservative government earlier this month in a September 18 vote on budget matters, which included formal approval of a popular home renovation tax credit.

The NDP, which along with the Bloc favors more government spending, has signaled it would support the Conservatives while they push through legislation expanding unemployment benefits. Officially, the NDP is keeping its options open.   Continued...

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper comments on his visit to Capitol Hill in Washington, September 17, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young</p>