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Liberals won't defeat government on throne speech   Politics Watch ® News Services
October 17, 2007, updated 5:33 p.m.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion says Canadians don't want a fall election.

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) —  Canada will likely not face a fall federal election after its official opposition party decided Wednesday to prop up the minority Conservative government on the throne speech.  

After days of speculation, Liberal leader Stephane Dion announced in the House of Commons that the Liberals will likely abstain on the main vote on the throne speech, which is a matter of confidence. 

The other two opposition parties -- the NDP and Bloc Quebecois -- had already said they would vote against the throne speech. 

"Never before has a federal government fallen on the basis of a throne speech," Dion said. 

"Canadians can count on the official opposition to do everything it can to make this Parliament work. We will not make the government fall on its throne speech, which would cause a third federal election in four years."

Dion said his party would propose amendments to the throne speech and if they are rejected then the Liberals would abstain on the main throne speech vote "in order to avoid causing an election."

The Liberal leader noted what he is doing is no different then what Prime Minister Stephen Harper did in 2005 when as opposition leader he ensured there would not be an election by having some of his MPs not show for a vote on the Liberal government's budget. 

Harper later repeated his belief that if the throne speech passes then the government has a mandate from the House of Commons to implement its legislative agenda. 

The prime minister said the government's first piece of legislation in the new session of Parliament will be an omnibus bill of criminal justice reforms called The Tackling Violent Crime Act. 

Harper also said the crime bill will be a matter of confidence. 

NDP Leader Jack Layton quickly criticized Dion's decision to prop up the government. 

"I offer to the leader of the opposition the option to do the right thing, which is to join with the NDP which is going to be rising in opposition to the direction of this government."

There was much speculation in Ottawa over the last 24 hours about what Dion would do. 

Leaks from the Liberal caucus gave the impression that Dion was hawkish and was leaning towards voting against the throne speech rather than prop up the Conservative government on a document that declares Canada's Kyoto accord commitments could not be met. 

At the conclusion of a three-hour caucus meeting on Wednesday morning, Dion did not tell Liberal MPs what his decision was on the throne speech vote. 

"He listened for hours and hours to both sides of the question and . . .  the guy listened an unbelievable amount so now we have to see but I don't know exactly what he's going to say," Liberal MP Garth Turner told reporters before Dion announced his intentions. 

Turner was one of the Liberals who had said the Liberals should vote against the government's throne speech. 

Other Liberals said the timing was not right for an election, given the party is trailing the Conservatives in every poll. 

Some Liberal MPs believe that their fortunes will turn around now that Parliament has reconvened and the government will face televised criticism in question period each day. 

The Liberals went on the offensive in the first question period of this Parliament on Wednesday afternoon with questions about an OPP investigation of Ottawa's mayor that has mentioned the names of senior Conservative party election officials and the Conservative party court case with Elections Canada over transfers to local ridings that were used to pay for television advertising. 

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