OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is considering suspending Parliament until March to take some of the heat off the minority Conservative government, the Globe and Mail said on Tuesday.
The newspaper quoted Liberal Ralph Goodale as saying he had heard civil servants were being told to clear the decks before a possible end of the parliamentary session. Goodale runs day-to-day business in the House of Commons for the Liberal Party.
Governments often suspend Parliament after a year or two to get a fresh start, with little debate, though it was highly controversial when Harper did it last December.
In that case, however, he was facing a vote of non-confidence and an attempt by the three opposition parties to replace the Conservatives with a coalition government.
No such move is under way now, but the Conservatives have been facing daily criticism in Parliament over the way Afghan detainees were treated in 2006-07 after being handed over to local authorities by Canadian troops. Criticism of the government becomes subdued without the daily Question Period.
The Conservatives have a solid lead over the Liberals in public opinion polls, but the margin has shrunk in recent weeks.
Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall declined direct comment. "We don't indulge the (Parliament) Hill rumor mill," he said.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson