March 6, 2008 / 5:09 PM / 10 years ago

Canada govt to survive new confidence test

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s minority Conservative government will face a new confidence test over the next several days, but the main opposition Liberal Party said it would not defeat the government at this time.

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (C) receives a standing ovation from his caucus while voting for the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 4, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The House of Commons will debate a motion on Friday saying the government has lost the confidence of the chamber because of its environmental policies.

It is a motion from the smallest group in Parliament, the left-leaning New Democratic Party, and would trigger an election if passed. It will be voted on next Monday or Tuesday.

But it will not succeed without Liberal support, and the Liberals made it clear on Thursday they would not join the NDP.

“You can assume we won’t bring down the government on an NDP nonconfidence motion,” Liberal spokeswoman Leslie Swartman said.

The Conservatives, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were elected in January 2006 after more than 12 years of Liberal rule.

The Liberals have been abstaining or keeping most of their members out of the House during recent confidence tests, most recently allowing the federal budget to pass.

They also agreed with the Conservatives in principle on an extension of the military mission in Afghanistan to a fixed end date of 2011, for all intents and purposes eliminating any possibility of an election on that issue.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion has said that if he brings the government down it will be on an issue of his party’s choice.

Some in his party are chafing to launch a campaign but others are concerned that the outcome may well simply be another minority Conservative government.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway

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