US & Canada

Canadian opposition 'to topple Conservative government'

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff
Image caption Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said Canadians had lost confidence in the Conservative government

Canada's three opposition parties say they plan to topple the Conservative government this week, in a vote on the budget or a no-confidence motion.

The no-confidence vote, due on Friday, stems from a ruling that the government has acted in contempt of Parliament by failing to disclose spending costs.

A vote on the government's budget plan is expected on Thursday or Friday.

A defeat for PM Stephen Harper on either vote would trigger Canada's fourth federal election in seven years.

An election would probably take place on 2 or 9 May.

The Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic Party (NDP) said on Wednesday they would back a motion of no-confidence in the minority Conservative government from the Liberals.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said: "This government has lost the confidence of Canadians."

A parliamentary committee ruled on Monday that Mr Harper's government had acted in contempt of Parliament by hiding details of the full costs of spending on tougher crime legislation, corporate tax cuts and plans to purchase stealth fighter jets.

It was the first such contempt ruling in Canada's history.

Economic recovery

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Harper urged opposition parties to back his government's economic plan and "step back" from the brink of snap elections.

Image caption Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government presented its budget on Tuesday

"Our recovery is not a political game. The global recovery is still fragile," he said.

"Relative to other nations, Canada's economic recovery has been strong, but its continuation is by no means assured."

His minority government needs the support of at least one of the opposition parties to pass the budget plan and avoid a new election.

But all three said they could not back it after it was unveiled on Tuesday.

However, if a federal election does take place, little is expected to change.

The Conservative Party, which has emphasised economic recovery over the past few years, is expected to win if an election is called but not outright, meaning it would still govern with a minority.

Canada has recovered all the jobs lost during the economic downturn and repaired its economy faster than many other industrialised nations.

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