Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean is seen after meeting with Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom, not seen, in Budapest, Hungary last week. Jean is travelling back to Canada to deal with the crisis.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008.
CTV.ca | Tory ads slam Dion over dealing with Bloc
Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean has cut short her European tour and is heading home early to deal with the current political crisis in Ottawa.
Jean is scheduled to return home on Wednesday, The Canadian Press reports.
On Monday the New Democrats, Liberals and Bloc Quebecois signed an accord and informed Jean they would defeat the Conservatives on a confidence motion on Monday.
They told Jean that a Liberal-NDP government is ready to take over government, with Liberal Leader Stephane Dion serving as interim prime minister. The Bloc would prop up the coalition from outside of government.
Jean has been on an official visit to central Europe since Nov. 24. If the government is brought down, she would have to decide whether to give the coalition the chance to govern, or dissolve Parliament and send Canadians back to the polls, less than two months after the federal election.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives are pulling out all the stops to prevent the coalition from toppling the government on Monday when Parliament votes on last week's contentious fiscal update, which triggered the political crisis.
The fight has largely become a public relations war, with the Conservatives describing the move as a "power grab" and spreading the message that the Liberals and NDP are effectively handing the balance of power to the Bloc Quebecois.
Heritage Minister James Moore said Canadians are shocked by the recent developments, which follow the Conservatives' election win less than two months ago.
"I think Canadians are pretty stunned that Stephane Dion, a guy who entered politics in a byelection in 1996 fighting against Quebec separatists, is now prepared to hand over power to Quebec separatists to become the prime minister of this country after Canadians and his own political party rejected him," Moore told CTV's Canada AM.
[quote]Under the accord, Dion would serve as interim prime minister until May, when the Liberals will elect a new party leader who would then become prime minister.
Moore said the Conservatives "still have some options left on the table" but wouldn't go into details of what those options are.
CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported Tuesday that Prime Minister Stephen Harper may try to prevent the vote from happening by forcing Parliament to take a break.
"There's very little wiggle room for the prime minister but what he could try to do is to prorogue Parliament before Monday's vote and bring it back with a throne speech and a budget inside that, and take his chances after a bit of a cooling-down period and hope maybe this coalition will fall apart," Fife said.[quote]
Doubt it, it'll just waste more time and more money, which seems to be the norm.
Harper is also likely to step up the public relations campaign in an effort to rally Canadians against the coalition. There is word of demonstrations in support of Harper taking place outside 24 Sussex Drive on Tuesday morning.
"The other thing he can do, and I believe he will do, is make an address to the nation this week to try and appeal to Canadians to put pressure on the gang of three," Fife said.
Additionally, there is a slim chance Harper could ask the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and call another election.
The coalition is "strange to say the least" Fife said, pointing out the Liberals have always opposed the NDP's financial policies, and Dion has always fought against separatists. But now the three parties have banded together to form a common front.
It's the first time since 1926 that Canadians face the possibility of changing governments without an election.
"I'm pleased to announce we are ready to form a government," said Dion on Monday, adding that the new alliance will "effectively, prudently, promptly and competently address these critical economic times."
Dion said the coalition will include a pared-down cabinet with 24 ministers plus the prime minister. Six of those spots will go to the NDP.
"Canadians elected 308 members of Parliament in October, not just Stephen Harper," said Dion, noting the new government would "promptly" implement an economic stimulus plan.
Dion was clear that he would step aside when the Liberals elect a new leader in Vancouver on May 2.
Layton said the agreement represented "enormous optimism" and represents a new way of governing, where parties can put aside their differences for the greater good of Canadians.
"I think it's likely to produce very good government. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be here," he said.
On Monday, Liberal leadership candidates Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc met and agreed unanimously that Dion would act as interim leader of the coalition until May.
"We are at one, the three of us, that the only person who can lead the party is the duly elected leader of the party Mr. Stephane Dion," Ignatieff said.