Canada agenda may spark election

Other News Materials 17 October 2007 06:36

A snap election could be called in Canada this month if opposition parties reject the minority Conservative government's annual "throne speech".

A series of mandatory confidence votes are due to be held and, if all three opposition parties vote against, an election will be triggered.

The speech, given on Tuesday night, offers a vote on military involvement in Afghanistan and outlines tax cuts.

It also says Canada cannot meet Kyoto greenhouse gas reduction goals.

But reports suggest the leading opposition Liberal Party is ill-prepared to fight an election and unlikely to vote against the speech.

It is due to make its position clear after a party meeting on Wednesday.

"The priority of Canadians is that this parliament works and there is not a third election in three-and-a-half years," Liberal leader Stephane Dion said.

"We need to spend the evening calmly, soberly, reflecting," party deputy leader Michael Ignatieff remarked.

Governor-General Michaelle Jean, Canada's ceremonial head of state, delivered the throne speech, a tradition under the Commonwealth country's parliamentary system.

It will be voted upon three times, with the first vote expected on Thursday night and the final one on 24 October.

The speech promises a parliamentary vote on any extension of the military mission in Afghanistan, currently set to end in February 2009

"Our government does not believe that Canada should abandon the people of Afghanistan after February 2009," the speech stressed.

The other key point in the speech is its declaration that Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are 33% above its commitment under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, and the country will not be able to meet the targets.

Opposition parties have been calling for Kyoto compliance.

Elsewhere, the speech outlines multi-year tax cuts for individuals and businesses, and a 1% cut in the national sales tax. ( BBC )