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  December 2, 2008

Canada: Liberals NDP Bloc sign deal to oust Tories

Opposition parties make agreement to defeat Harper government on belt-tightening economic plan
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The Liberals and the New Democrats have a deal to form a coaliton government and push the Stephen Harper Conservatives out of office. The agreement was also signed by the Bloc Quebecois although they will not be part of the coalition. Liberal leader Stepahne Dion and the NDP’s Jack Layton signed the accord which would see the two parties work together until June 2011. Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois also signed the agreement which would see his party support the coalition till June 2010, though the BQ would not be part of the coalition. The move comes after finance minister Jim Flaherty tabled an economic and fiscal update last week that did not include a stimulus package for the recession that has gripped the Canadian and global economies. In the package was a plan to end government funding of political parties implemented by the Chretien government to stop politicians from being beholden to the corporations that give them money, a decision to take away the right to strike for public service unions, a move to cut financing for litigation in pay equity hearings, and selling off government assets. The opposition quickly jumped on the Harper and Flaherty’s austerity and belt-tightening proposals and laissez-faire attitude at a time when nations around the world are pumping money into their economies to boost consumer confidence and threatened to bring down the government. Fearing they’d made a blunder Flaherty removed the abolition of party funding and backed off from taking away the right to strike for public workers from the bill. The prime minister also postponed the vote on the bill by a week to December the 8th. In the meantime the opposition got together to discuss a coalition and spent all weekend working on the deal and have told Governor General Michaelle Jean that they have enough votes to form a government. Involved in the negotiations were former Prime Minster Jean Chretien and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent. The Conservatives have attacked the idea of a coalition saying it was unconstitutional and went as far as recording a conference call by the NDP caucus trying to say that this was not about the economy but a power grab. The Bloc and NDP responded by reminding Harper that he had asked for a similar agreement in 2005 when he tried to topple then Prime Minister Paul Martin’s minority government. The deal by the Liberals and the New Democrats would see a 24- member cabinet with the Liberals getting eighteen ministers and the NDP getting six as well as six parliamentary secretaries. This would be historic because the New Democrats have never formed or been part of the Federal Government in Canada. The question remained of who would lead the coalition as Liberal Leader Stephane Dion will be stepping down after the Liberal Leadership convention. Sunday Night in Toronto the three L leadership candidates Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc came to an agreement, and at a liberal caucus meeting on Monday the vote was unanimous.


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