Skip to comments.Liberals, NDP and Bloc sign coalition pact (Canada)
Posted on 12/01/2008 2:43:49 PM PST by fanfan
OTTAWANDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion have signed an historic accord to form a coalition government to replace Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
In an extraordinary scene on Parliament Hill, Dion and Layton signed a formal deal to work together through to June, 2011.
And they signed an agreement with Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe that commits the separatist party to support the coalition through to June, 2010.
The opposition parties are threatening to defeat the Conservatives next week.
However their plan to assume government would require the blessing of the Governor General.
Under the deal, the Liberal caucus would be responsible for choosing the finance minister, a key role as the country faces economic storms.
The NDP would get six positions in the 24-member cabinet as well as six parliamentary secretary positions.
Layton said the coalition would move with a stimulus package that is "prompt and prudent."
That plan includes infrastructure spending, home construction, renovations and financial support for "struggling sectors" that can demonstrate a viable business plan.
He urged Harper to accept his looming defeat "gracefully" and not make moves that create "further instability and delay."
Duceppe said his party would not introduce any non-confidence motions or vote against any budgets or speeches from the throne until the agreement expires but would be free to vote as it wishes on any other legislation.
Dion will serve as leader until a Liberal leadership convention in May.
The NDP and Liberals have settled on an agreement to form a coalition government, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois.
They could defeat the Conservatives as early as next Monday.
Liberals Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc, all candidates for the party leadership, appeared together to show support for the decision.
Rae said "theres no turning back" from plans to toss Prime Minister Stephen Harpers Conservatives from power.
Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay said the deal was done and no announcement by Harper - short of proroguing parliament, which she does not believe he will do - is going to stop the opposition parties from defeating the government next Monday.
Ignatieff told reporters that the ongoing race would not preclude any of the contenders from serving in a coalition cabinet.
Ignatieff and Leblanc said it was the prerogative of the prime minister to choose.
"The decisions on who is in cabinet are made by the prime minister of Canada, theyre not made by me, theyre not made by Dom and theyre not made by Bob," said Ignatieff.
"And thats very clear in the accord thats to say the authority and the prerogatives of the prime minister have not been compromised. Its up to Mr.Dion to make the choices that he feels are right for the country."
Leblanc responded: "Michael is always right!"
Harper got a standing ovation from Conservatives as he took his place in the Commons with two notable exceptions - Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Trade Minister Stockwell Day.
Dion got a standing ovation from Liberal and NDP MPs as he kicked off question period with a question to the prime minister about stimulus for the countrys economy.
Lisa Raitt, a rookie Conservative minister, was among some Conservatives who put on a brave face, saying she was honoured to have served the people of her Halton riding even if it turns out to have been a short time.
The prime minister dismissed Dions shot in the Commons about playing partisan games in his economic statement.
Harper shot back that the Liberal leader was "about to play one of the biggest political games" in the countrys history.
Harper appealed to the opposition to wait until seeing the budget, scheduled for Jan. 27.
"I understand he wants to be Prime Minister. . . . I wouldnt want to be governing the economy in his position," Harper said, referring to the coalition of "socialist economic" and "separatists."
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty accused the Liberals of making a "deal with the devil" and said the NDP "dont know the first thing" about running the economy.
Sources said the deal calls for the coalition government to deliver a federal budget immediately after taking office. The budget would include a major package of stimulus measures to shore up the troubled economy.
The NDP said this morning that the deal has not been signed but the two sides are "very close."
The game of high-stakes political intrigue has set the stage for a week in which Harper's Conservatives will fight to retain power.
It appears nothing short of a fresh economic statement with measures to help Canadians cope with the recession is likely to dissuade the opposition from defeating the Conservative minority and trying to form a coalition government.
Flaherty kicked off the day yesterday with a full-scale retreat from his Nov. 27 economic statement, with a promise of economic stimulus measures in an early budget on Jan. 27.
For the first time, he hinted strongly that Ottawa would bail out Canada's struggling Big Three automakers.
But the Liberals and New Democrats said the latest concessions from the Conservatives are not enough to derail the move to defeat the Tory minority and take power with a coalition cabinet. A confidence vote that could topple the government is expected on Dec. 8.
Another bitter episode was spawned when the NDP said it might pursue legal action after the Conservatives taped a private New Democrat caucus meeting Saturday and distributed the transcripts and recordings to the media yesterday.
In the meeting, NDP Leader Jack Layton tells his caucus that "moves" with respect to the Bloc Québécois "a long time ago" helped lay the groundwork for the coalition now being discussed a statement the Conservatives say suggests the fiscal update is merely an excuse for the revolt.
Yesterday, in another reversal from the economic package, Flaherty told a telephone news conference the government would remove from legislation implementing the package a bid to temporarily ban public service strikes. On Saturday, he backed down on the plan to scrap federal subsidies for political parties.
Flaherty stressed that the government has tried to stave off an economic slowdown by using lower taxes he brought in a six-year, $60 billion tax reduction program in 2007 to improve business conditions. But he said there will be further stimulus to the economy, and suggested it might include help for the auto sector.
"We're going to have to deal with the automotive issue, obviously," he added. "Will we have to help a particular sector or more than one particular sector? The answer is probably yes."
The federal and Ontario governments have asked Ford, General Motors and Chrysler thought to be collectively seeking $3 billion to $4 billion in aid to produce recovery plans by Friday.
Flaherty's statements indicate the Tories are trying to limit damage in the wake of an economic package that has raised questions about the government's credibility and political smarts.
"The stability of the government and the economy is paramount," he said. Rather than propose to scrap the federal subsidy for political parties, the Conservatives will move to freeze the payments at the current $1.95 per vote and put the issue before the public for future debate.
Flaherty sounded unusually subdued. While his future was not discussed, questions about his role as finance minister can be expected now that the economic strategy has blown up in the government's face.
Since last week, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc have been involved in closed-door talks aimed at preparing a coalition government.
There are questions whether the Liberals could act cohesively to join in an attempt to oust Harper. The main issue surrounds which Liberal would head the coalition and potentially become prime minister. It is known that Stéphane Dion, the caretaker leader, would expect to do so, despite doubts among some Liberals who blame him for the party's Oct. 14 election defeat.
In a meeting in Toronto last night, Liberal leadership contender Bob Rae tried to convince fellow contenders Michael Ignatieff and Dominic LeBlanc to show a unified front by accepting the deal with Dion as coalition leader, according to a Rae supporter. Rae argued there is no reason to change "the legitimate leadership process" that will replace Dion in May.
For the opposition, the "central issue" continues to be the Tories' lack of a package of significant new measures to address the economy, which Flaherty admits has fallen into a recession, said Liberal finance critic John McCallum.
"I still don't think anything has really changed," McCallum (Markam-Unionville) said after Flaherty's news conference.
He said there's also a growing question of credibility with the Harper government. "Here we are when they're desperate to save the government and they'll promise us the moon. But when we're promised the moon, I don't think we necessarily believe it."
Deputy NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said the provocative economic update was a "terrible miscalculation by the Conservatives."
"We're not going to give them another chance," he said. "We're structured, we're organized, we've worked very hard for the past four days and you're going to see the fruits of that labour very shortly."
Mulcair also said the covert taping of the NDP call "shows the desperation of the Conservatives."
Pierre Poilievre, Harper's parliamentary secretary, told CTV the transcript shows there were "members of the NDP who were working with the separatists who want to destroy Canada in order to take control of the country in a perilous coalition.
"All of this was hatched long ago, well before any of the controversy over the fall economic statement. That is shocking news," he said.
The recording was made by a Conservative who was able to dial into Layton's teleconference call with New Democrat MPs.
Mulcair denied his party was engaged in discussions with the Bloc before the Nov. 27 economic statement. The situation is no different from "consultations" Harper had with the NDP and the Bloc as opposition leader against the minority Liberals in 2004, Mulcair said.
He also said the NDP is looking at its legal options, saying party discussions were "illegally intercepted."
The Tories downplayed the 2004 consultations, saying there was never any intention of a coalition.
There were several signals over the weekend that the affair has damaged Harper's leadership. Several senior Conservative government members admitted they had been hearing from supporters outraged over Harper's moves.
With files from Linda Diebel
So in short, the libs struck a deal with a few other partys to get enough of a coalition to take over from the conservatives?
This should be fun.
It could almost be acceptable if it was “a few other parties”....
The Liberal Party, and The NDP need the support of the “Bloc Quebecois” to form a government.
The Bloc is the Quebec separatist party.
They are making deals with them to achieve power.
Deals with separatists, FGS!
Canadians are not going to like this.
Moonbat Left trying to steal the Government from the Conservatives in Canada.
Why can’t Harper call a snap election?
Essentially correct. The Conservatives did not have a majority in Parliament. So, if all the other parties join together, they get to form the new government.
But, I think their coalition will end up being unstable. If they lose a confidence vote in Parliament and have to call a new election, the people will punish the coalition parties at the polls. The electorate in a parliamentary system does not want to see governments falling so soon after an election.
Dear God. I am shocked. How awful.
Damn blunder in Quebec cost Harper a shot at a majoirty.
I think he can call a snap election. And should.
This isn’t unseemly or anything though I’d have suggested it if I was a leftist.
Because he is no longer the PM.
So this means liberals DO NOT respect Constitutional government on either side of the boarder?? I am SHOCKED-Revolutions on both sides (more like “coup de’ etat”)!
It’s not stealing, it’s called playing the game. Conservatives, either in Canada or the US, don’t know how to play.
Only in Canada. This sounds like sour grapes on the part of the NDP and the Libs because they lost the election. This co-operation or deal cannot stand for 2 1/2 years. Now nobody gets the government they voted for or wanted. The conservatives better block everything they can.
I’ll call it stealing. An unholy moonbat alliance. If Conservatives had tried a similar tack against a leftist gov’t, we damn well know what the media would call it.
It has been done before and everyone knows how to play the game.
This is high stakes, no limit poker.
You think he should go all in?
Should be an interesting tribal council.
I hope they vote off the fat naked gay guy.
It seems odd that they ran such a very long article on this new coalition but never bothered to give the number of members from the various parties involved.
I suppose in a parliamentary system you can bring down the government any time you choose, if you have the votes to do so, although they may later be punished by the voters if they don’t handle it right.
So he can’t force an election?
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