Canada's government survives non-confidence motion

Thu Oct 1, 2009 5:56pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - As expected, Canada's minority Conservative government survived a non-confidence motion on Thursday on its handling of the economic crisis due to a split among the three opposition parties.

Legislators voted 144-117 against the motion, which had been proposed by the main opposition Liberal Party. Had the government lost the vote, Canada would have been tipped into its second election in a year.

The left-leaning New Democrats, who had made clear ahead of time they would not bring down the government for now, all abstained.

Speaking earlier in the day, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said the budget deficit could spiral to C$60 billion ($55.6 billion) this year. The government, which as late as last November said it could stay out of the red, now puts the likely deficit this year at C$55.9 billion.

"They have lost control of the public finances of our country ... this is a terrible record of failure," Ignatieff told Parliament.

The New Democrats -- usually fierce critics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- say they will help keep the government in power at least until Parliament adopts legislation boosting benefits for the unemployed.

New Democrats leader Jack Layton, speaking just before the vote, said he would not give the government a blank check.

"I would call on Stephen Harper not to provoke an election. He knows how you have to act to make a place work when there's a minority Parliament," he told CTV television.   Continued...