Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday took the unprecedented step of seeking the suspension of Parliament so he can avoid being ousted by the opposition next week.
Harper’s extreme gambit is the latest development in a constitutional crisis that erupted last week after he tried to cut public financing for political parties, a move that would have hit the opposition parties particularly hard.
Harper’s Conservatives won a strengthened minority in an October 14 election but now face a confidence vote in Parliament on Monday they are likely to lose. The left-leaning Liberals and New Democrats signed a deal to defeat Harper and form a coalition government.
They are backed by the Bloc Quebecois, which wants to break up Canada by gaining independence for French-speaking Quebec.
Harper went to see Governor General Michaelle Jean -the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada’s head of state -on Thursday morning and a spokesman for the prime minister said he would ask her to suspend Parliament. Any suspension would most likely last until a federal budget set for January 27.
Harper’s request is unprecedented because no prime minister has ever asked for Parliament to be suspended so soon after an election, and no prime minister has asked for a suspension to avoid a confidence vote in Parliament.