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Harper rules out defeating government on energy bill  

[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:05 p.m. October 5, 2005]

OTTAWA  — Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of his party defeating the government on a proposed $2.4 billion energy bill designed to give a break to Canadians facing rising fuel costs. 

The $2.4 billion in energy rebates is a money bill and is expected to be a confidence motion. 

The government hopes to get the rebate cheques out to Canadians before the end of the winter, meaning the bill may have to be passed in the fall. 

The opposition parties have limited opportunities to defeat the government on confidence motions. On Tuesday, the Government House leader made the possibility of a fall election on an opposition day motion totally unlikely as he set a parliamentary calendar with the first opposition day not coming until mid November. 

But Harper said Wednesday his party will not defeat the Liberals on the energy bill if it is a confidence motion. 

"We are not going to vote down anything that gives any kind of tax relief to Canadians. That would just be nonsense," said Harper after a Conservative caucus meeting. 

"You will recall one of the reasons we weren't prepared to oppose the original budget last spring was that it was giving tax relief and it was only when they started to pull away that tax relief that we were prepared to vote against the budget."

While Harper won't bring down the government on the energy rebate plan, he said he is still keeping his options open. 

Harper said he has on the Order Paper and a "general motion of non-confidence"

"If we believe it will carry I bring it forward," Harper said. 

Harper again emphasized that he has no plans to try to defeat the government unless he has the support of the both the NDP and the Bloc. 

"It is not procedural maneuvers that is going to keep this government in office. What's keeping them in office is the support of the NDP. And if they lose the support of the NDP then I think we're in a whole different ballgame."

But if the NDP continues to support the government? 

"The NDP will have to explain in the next election why they supported the Liberals. I don't see any good answers," Harper said. 

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