Canada gov't looks set to survive confidence vote

Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:57pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren and Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's minority Conservative government gained the temporary support of an opposition party on Monday and is poised to survive a non-confidence motion in Parliament later this week.

The non-confidence vote will come before Parliament debates draft legislation to boost jobless benefits by some C$1 billion ($920 million) -- a measure that the left-leaning New Democratic Party has long demanded.

"We want this billion (dollars) to be available for the families who need it and we're not going to prevent that," said New Democrat leader Jack Layton, usually a vehement critic of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Layton did not say in so many words how he would vote on the non-confidence motion submitted by the opposition Liberals. But the party has already signaled that it will support the government, and Layton's comments further supported that.

Unless all three opposition parties back the Liberals' non-confidence motion, the government stays in power and Canada escapes what would have been the second election in a year.

"This issue for us is basic trust... We've had enough," Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff told reporters.

Harper denounced that stance as irresponsible.

"I think Canadians expect, at a time of this kind of economic challenge, they expect members of Parliament of all parties to be hard at work on the economy and not playing those kinds of parliamentary games," he said.   Continued...

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