Canadian government set to be toppled on Friday

Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:40pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's minority Conservative government looks set to fall on Friday on opposition charges it is incompetent and tainted by sleaze, setting the scene for an immediate election campaign that might barely change the balance of political power.

All three opposition parties said on Wednesday they would back a motion of nonconfidence in the government from the Liberals, the biggest opposition party.

If they all vote for the motion at a debate on Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be defeated and Canada will face its fourth federal election in less than seven years.

"We've worked with the government in times past, but we've reached the end of the road here," said Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party. "They have made choices that will harm Canadian families. They have made choices that are not good for our democracy."

Polls show the Conservatives would easily retain power in an election, if voting intentions stayed where they are now.

But Harper might not win enough votes to transform his minority right-of-center government into a majority one that cannot be easily defeated. An election would probably take place on May 2 or May 9 after a campaign of around six weeks.

The Conservatives came to power in early 2006 on a platform of cleaning up Ottawa after accountability scandals that tarnished the reputation of the previous Liberal government.

But last week, police were asked to probe allegations of misconduct by a former top Harper aide, and last month, four Conservative officials were charged with violating financing rules during the 2006 election campaign.   Continued...