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Harper motion is a non-confidence 
motion: Broadbent 

[PoliticsWatch Updated 2:45 p.m. May 6, 2005]

OTTAWA  — The NDP may not go along with the Liberals plan to ignore a Conservative Party non-confidence motion if passed, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent said Friday on Parliament Hill Friday.  

On Thursday, the Speaker of the House ruled in order a committee report amendment tabled by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper calling for the government to resign. 

A vote in the House of Commons will come on May 18 at the latest, but Government House Leader Tony Valeri has said he does not view that motion as a confidence motion.

But on Friday, Broadbent, whose party has agreed to support the Liberals on all non-confidence votes until a new budget with increased social spending receives Royal Assent in the senate, said his party saw things differently than Valeri. 

"We do not agree with him," Broadbent said. "We think it is a confidence vote. Thinking it's a confidence vote, ourselves, the government is mistaken on that. We have taken the position that until the budget is finished we will not be voting non-confidence in the government. So we'll vote against the motion."

When asked what the NDP would do if the motion passes and Prime Minister Paul Martin decides to ignore the will of the House, Broadbent said, "We'll have to see what happens at that time."

While the NDP hasn't decided what it's next step would be at that moment, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said he will ask Governor General Adrienne Clarkson to intervene if Martin does not resign after losing a confidence vote in the House. 

On Friday, the Conservatives continued to play their cards close to their vest on what they would do in the event of a potential constitutional crisis. But getting Clarkson to get involved "is an option."

"We haven't reached a decision on what we would do because at this point, of course, it's all hypothetical, we haven't even had the vote yet, let alone won it," said Conservative House leader Jay Hill, who described procedural jousting on Parliament Hill as "a high-stakes game of chess." 

Meanwhile, Valeri stressed in an interview with Reuters Friday that there will be a confidence vote in the House this spring, but it may come in late June. 

Valeri said the government plans to have votes on budget implementation bills before the summer recess, which begins June 23.

However, Valeri still believes Harper's motion asking the government to resign is not a matter of confidence. 

"It would be like saying the opposition calls for the government to resign every day and the government does not resign on that basis," Valeri said.

One of those bills that is a confidence matter was introduced in Parliament on Friday. 

The government introduced a separate piece of legislation to implement the $4.5 billion in social spending agreed to by the government in a deal with the NDP to secure support on non-confidence votes. 

The $4.5 billion is allocated in four envelopes. 

>  $900 million for the environment, including public transit and an energy-efficient retrofit program for low-income housing.
> $1.5 billion for supporting training programs and enhancing access to post-secondary education.
> $1.6 billion for affordable housing, including housing for aboriginals.
> $500 million for foreign aid.

: Related Links

> Confidence showdown set . . . or is it?

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