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Liberals delay opposition confidence votes six weeks  

[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:15 p.m. October 4, 2005]

OTTAWA  — The Conservatives accused the Liberal government of running scared on Tuesday after they pushed back by six weeks the possibility of an opposition confidence motion that could trigger an election.   

Government House Leader Tony Valeri told a meeting of party House leaders the first of seven opposition days before the Christmas break will come on the week of November 14. 

Opposition days are the only opportunity opposition parties have to table motions of non-confidence in the government. 

Under the six-week delay, the earliest a vote of non-confidence could occur in the House would be November 15. 

A campaign must be held for a 35-day period. That would mean the earliest the campaign could end would be Tuesday, December 20. But under the law the election must be held on the first Monday after the end of the campaign, unless it's a holiday. 

The first Monday after December 20 is Boxing Day, meaning the election date would be Tuesday, December 27, smack in the middle of the Christmas holiday period. 

"They want to ensure that there's no opportunity between now and mid-November to trigger an election," said Conservative House Leader Jay Hill. 

"It's what we suspected all along."

With the first and probably more damaging Gomery report on the sponsorship program expected to be released on November 1, there had been discussions about the possibility of the opposition parties defeating the government in October, prompting the Gomery time bomb to come out mid-campaign. 

The opposition parties could move concurrence motions calling on the government to resign through the House of Commons before the November 14. 

However, in the spring session of Parliament, the Liberals chose to ignore a House defeat on a concurrence motion asking the government to resign for nine days before bringing forward a confidence vote, which they won by the narrowest possible margin. 

"Despite all their bluster they're running scared," Hill said. "They know they are in trouble not only on sponsorship but on the Dingwall affair. They know that Canadians are increasingly angry with this government."

A spokesman for Valeri said the calendar presented to the House leaders on Tuesday "allows the government to focus on the priorities of Canadians and to keep the prime minister's promise to hold an election 30 days" after the second Gomery report due in February. 

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