Layton tables motion calling
[PoliticsWatch Updated 11:30 a.m. November 17, 2005]
OTTAWA — The first step in defeating the minority Liberal government was launched Thursday morning when NDP Leader Jack Layton tabled a motion in the House of Commons requesting the government call an election in the first week of January.
Prime Minister Paul Martin has already rejected Layton's motion. He has promised an election call 30 days after the final report on the sponsorship scandal is released on February 1.
But the three opposition parties are now united in having an election earlier than that.
"We do have an historic opportunity here in a minority Parliament to do what Canadians and the prime minister have said they want to see happen," Layton said.
Layton said an election is needed in January to allow important government bills to be passed in the House and to stop the Liberals as they attempt to "sell themselves at our expense" early next year.
The opposition parties have accused the prime minister of campaigning on the public dime by flying around the country in government jets to make partisan speeches and attending campaign-style events.
Layton said he feared Liberal cabinet ministers will use the first months of the new year when Parliament is not sitting to essentially campaign using government jets.
Government House Leader Tony Valeri said Layton's motion "did not fit with the constitutional requirements with this country."
"The opposition wants to defeat the government but not for another month and a half or so," he said. "Parliament doesn't work that way."
He accused the opposition parties of refusing to take responsibility for sending Canadians to an election through the Christmas holiday season.
The opposition motion is expected to pass next week.
But the vote that everyone in Ottawa will be watching will take place on Monday, November 28 when Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's motion non-confidence will be voted on in the House.
That motion is binding in if passed will send Canada to the polls with an election date likely in mid-January.
Meanwhile, the prime minister told reporters en route to the APEC summit in South Korea that he was concerned the opposition election timetable could interfere with not only Christmas but other ethnic groups' holiday celebrations as well.
"When you are talking about the holiday season, there are also other religions that have different New Year's at different dates and their holidays at a different date and I think we have to be respectful of that - the orthodox churches, for example," he said.
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