Minister set to be hit with contempt charge

Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:16pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Opposition legislators said on Friday they were likely to recommend that Parliament censure a cabinet minister for contempt, increasing pressure on an already scandal-hit minority government.

A Parliamentary committee dominated by the opposition grilled International Aid Minister Bev Oda after she gave contradictory reasons for cutting off money to an aid group.

"I find that the minister deliberately misled Parliament and misled the public," said Pat Martin of the New Democrats. "I hope we get the opportunity to return a motion of contempt."

The minority Conservative government faces the prospect of several nonconfidence motions next week and its chances of survival now look smaller than ever.

Polls show the Conservatives would likely win a new election, albeit with another minority. But opposition parties seem confident they can benefit from a string of problems besetting the ruling party, and they seem increasingly ready to combine forces to vote the government out of office.

"I don't know how he's able to put his fingers in the boat because the holes keep popping up... If you live by the lie you'll die by the lie," David McGuinty of the Liberals, the largest opposition party, said of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The ethics discussion is overshadowing the March 22 federal budget. The government, which has only a minority of seats in the House of Commons, needs the backing of one opposition party to pass the legislation and stay in power.

The generally bad mood among Parliamentarians -- on evidence again on Friday -- makes it very unclear if the Conservatives will get that backing.   Continued...