Canadian government facing confidence vote

 

Canada's minority Liberal government is set to be defeated tomorrow in a parliamentary motion of no confidence after 17 months in power.

The three opposition parties, which control a majority of seats in the House of Commons elected chamber of parliament, say Prime Minister Paul Martin is presiding over a corrupt administration and must be forced from power.

Parliament will vote tomorrow on a straightforward opposition motion which states "That this House has lost confidence in the Government."

Martin, who has no hope of winning the vote, will announce the date of the election early on Tuesday and thereby formally kick off the campaign. The most likely date of the election is either January 16 or January 23, 2006.

Opinion polls show the probable result is another minority Liberal government, which means Martin will once again be forced to rely on other parties to govern. The Liberals have 133 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

The opposition will focus on what it says is Liberal wrongdoing while Martin said today he would point to the booming economy. Canada is the only member of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations to run a budget surplus, and unemployment is at a 30-year low.

The Liberals have been in power since late 1993 but never really recovered from revelations in February 2004 that some party officials had funnelled C$100 million from a government sponsorship fund to Liberal-friendly firms.

Martin - who became prime minister in December 2003 - lost his parliamentary majority in the June 2004 election amid anger over the scandal, which is still one of the deciding factors in Canadian politics.