Canada’s Trudeau Survives Latest Confidence Vote

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minority Liberal government have avoided a potential snap election.

The Liberals survived a confidence vote in the House of Commons 180 to 146, with the support of the opposition NDP.

The vote on Wednesday was over a Conservative motion demanding a special committee on coronavirus aid spending.

It comes a year to the day that Mr Trudeau retained power in a narrow election win.

The political drama concerned an opposition motion seeking to create a special parliamentary committee to probe the Liberal government’s pandemic relief spending.

That spending included a controversial and now defunct programme designed to connect post-secondary students to volunteer opportunities. That programme was at the heart of the WE Charity affair, an ethics crisis that cost Mr Trudeau a long-time finance minister.

Mr Trudeau has apologised for taking part in a cabinet decision to give WE Charity, which had ties to his family, a contract to administer the programme. The charity pulled out of the programme over the summer.

On Wednesday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said his left-leaning party would “not give PM Trudeau the election he’s looking for”, and would oppose the motion. The Green Party also voted against it.

The Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois voted in favour.

This is the third time the Liberals have faced a confidence vote since parliament returned late September.

The first vote was on a package of new coronavirus relief measures, which received unanimous support. The second was on Mr Trudeau’s Throne Speech, which laid out a framework for pandemic recovery. The NDP also sided with the Liberals on that vote.

What was this most recent vote about?

In August, Mr Trudeau made a controversial decision to prorogue – or suspend – parliament and to return on 23 September.

Proroguing ends the parliamentary session, allowing the government to reset its priorities.

But Mr Trudeau’s decision also cut short several parliamentary committees looking into the WE Charity scandal, and opposition parties accused the Liberals of trying to duck scrutiny.

With parliament now back, the Conservatives said they wanted to create a special committee to examine what they call the government’s ethical problems in relation to the billions of dollars spent on coronavirus relief packages.

There have been 203,688 cases of Covid-19 in Canada, and 9,794 deaths. The country has a population of about 38 million.

Early this week, in a surprise move, the Liberal government announced it would consider the vote on the motion one of confidence, meaning a snap election could have been called if the motion passed.

Mr Trudeau said on Tuesday it was for parliamentarians to decide whether they still had confidence in the Liberals to manage the pandemic response.

Opposition parties claimed the Liberals were trying to force an unnecessary election.


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