Canada set to avoid early election again

Wed Sep 30, 2009 4:49pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada seemed set to avoid an early election for a second time this month after the small New Democratic Party (NDP) said on Wednesday it would keep the minority Conservative government in power

The left-leaning NDP said it would ensure the government does not fall in a confidence vote in Parliament on Thursday so that legislation providing C$1 billion ($930 million) in added jobless benefits can pass.

The non-confidence motion is being put forward by the Liberals, the biggest opposition party. If it were to pass, an election would be held later this autumn, the fourth since 2004.

"We're certainly not going to allow a motion from the Liberal Party to put a stop to a billion dollars that people across the country who are out of work are counting on us to deliver to them," NDP leader Jack Layton said after a caucus meeting.

The House of Commons will vote on the Liberal motion on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. EDT.

The Conservatives have only a minority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons and must rely on the support of at least one opposition party to remain in power. NDP support also helped the government through a confidence test on September 18.

Some Liberals may actually be breathing a sigh of relief that the NDP is preventing a quick election as their party has taken a sudden dive in opinion polls. The Conservatives, on the other hand, may now prefer to have a quick election to try to capitalize on their polling lead and shoot for a majority.

Since the Liberals decided a month ago to stop propping up the government, they have moved from a rough tie with the Conservatives in the polls to about 7 percentage points behind.   Continued...

<p>New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa September 28, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>