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MacKay fears Liberals will pull the plug

[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:30 a.m. November 17, 2005]

OTTAWA  — Deputy Conservative Leader Peter MacKay said Thursday his party is not ruling out the possibility of defeating the minority Liberal government some time next week on a tax cut motion to force an election before the Liberals prorogue Parliament.  
  

MacKay's comments comes a day after Conservative Leader Stephen Harper set November 28 as the date the opposition parties would defeat the government on a non-confidence vote. 

But MacKay described Harper's November 28 plan as only "something he's looking at doing" and said the Tories may defeat the Liberals on a ways and means motion to introduce tax changes next week.

On Monday, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale announced in his fiscal update retroactive tax cuts which would increase the basic personal exemption $500 and reduce the income tax level on those making less than $35,000 to 15 per cent from 16 per cent. 

The retroactive tax cut is contained in a ways and means motion.  

Government House Leader Tony Valeri said Thursday he plans to put the ways and means motion before the House on either Monday or Wednesday. 

MacKay said he fears about the Liberals shutting down Parliament to avoid being defeated in a vote of non-confidence. 

Prorogation would end the sitting of the House and the prime minister can wait as long as a year before recalling Parliament. 

But the Prime Minister and other Liberals are now openly denying they plan to prorogue Parliament. 

On Thursday, Valeri was more categorical in denial of the prorogation rumour and suggested it's being floated by the opposition parties. 

"The only people talking about prorogation are the opposition parties," Valeri said.

"We have not discussed prorogation. We'd like to get supply. We'd like to continue to govern. We are not here to shut down the House. We are here to keep the House open and I have no interest in prorogation."

But MacKay said he does not believe Valeri's denial.

"I'm never more convinced of the truth of the matter then when I hear a Liberal adamantly deny it," MacKay said. "So when they're saying they're not going to prorogue I think they're seriously considering it."

The opposition leaders are trying to put forward what they call a compromise to have the prime minister call an election in the first week of January to avoid a Christmas election and get some key legislation through Parliament. 

On Thursday, MPs began debating NDP Leader Jack Layton's motion formally making that request. 

The non-binding motion will likely pass on Monday of next week, but the Liberals are saying they will ignore it. 

Layton was not asked about defeating the government on the ways and means motion MacKay says the Tories now could vote against. 

But Layton said the Liberals voting against his election motion "will be significant" in the course of events on Parliament Hill in the next few weeks. 

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe meanwhile is cooling observing events on the Hill as he awaits an election he says he has been ready for since the day after the last election. 

"I think the Liberals are very, very nervous," said Duceppe. "They're panicking." 

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