Conservatives seen remaining in power

Thu Oct 1, 2009 11:51am EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives, well ahead of their rivals in the polls, are set to survive a non-confidence motion in Parliament later on Thursday over their handling of the economic crisis.

The House of Commons will vote at around 5:30 p.m. (2130 GMT) on a motion presented by the Liberals, the biggest opposition party. If the motion succeeds, Canada will head into its second election in little over a year.

All three opposition parties must vote for the motion to topple the minority Conservative government, however the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) made it clear on Wednesday it would either vote against the measure or abstain.

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.

Skeptics link the New Democrats' new-found enthusiasm for the government to polls showing support for the NDP is dropping.

On Thursday, a weekly Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp put the Conservatives at 36.0 percent support, down from 37.0 percent the previous week. The Liberals were at 29.7 percent, down from 29.9 percent. The NDP had 13.9 percent support, up slightly from 13.8 percent a week earlier, but below earlier Ekos numbers.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa September 29, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>