Canada's Conservative government on verge of collapse

Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:40pm EST
 
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's minority government teetered on the edge of collapse on Friday, less than two months after its re-election, as opposition parties talked of forming a coalition to replace the ruling Conservatives.

Both the Conservatives and the three opposition parties were engaged in high-stakes brinkmanship over the fiscal update that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presented on Thursday.

The opposition said the update did not contain needed stimulus for an economy increasingly squeezed by the global downturn, but they were most angered by a planned end to direct public financing of political parties.

If neither side blinks, the government will likely fall, perhaps as early as Monday, and Canada would either head into a snap election or into some sort of coalition led by the opposition Liberals.

"Canadians ... just might get a Christmas present next week and have the Conservatives turfed, which is exactly what they deserve for their mismanagement of the economy," Thomas Mulcair, deputy leader of the leftist New Democratic Party, told CBC television.

The Conservatives were in no mood to back down and argued it would be an outrage for the others to displace a government formed by a party that had won nearly half of Parliament's seats on October 14 and garnered much more popular support than any other.

"The opposition is trying to usurp the decision of Canadian voters only two months ago by changing the government without going to the people," Kory Teneycke, spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told reporters.

"We received a strengthened mandate. The Liberals received their lowest percentage share of the vote since Confederation (in 1867). The government's agenda on the economy is moving forward."   Continued...

 
<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa November 27, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>