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Canadian PM Shuts Down Parliament to Avoid No-Confidence Vote


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has shut down parliament, sparing himself from a no-confidence vote that he was likely to lose.

The move comes after Mr. Harper met for two hours Thursday with Governor General Michaelle Jean, who agreed to Mr. Harper's request to suspend parliament until he can present a budget late next month.

The unprecedented step comes less than two months after Mr. Harper's re-election.

The governor general, in a mostly ceremonial post, is the representative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, who is Canada's head of state. Jean had to decide whether to suspend parliament or allow Mr. Harper to face the no-confidence vote on Monday.

Opposition members decried the decision.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion, who the opposition wants to replace Mr. Harper with, warned that only "monumental change" would keep his coalition from toppling the minority Conservative government, adding that Mr. Harper was "running away" from parliament.

The leader of the New Democrats, Jack Layton, described Mr. Harper's action as putting "locks on the door" of parliament.

In a televised address Wednesday night, Mr. Harper pledged to use "every legal means" to stop an effort by opposition parties to oust him.

The Liberals, New Democrats and the separatist Bloc Quebecois announced their coalition on Monday. They have accused Mr. Harper and the Conservatives of not doing enough to help Canadians cope with the global financial crisis.

Canada's ruling Conservative Party won the most seats in an October 14 election, but failed to win a majority of the 308 seats in parliament.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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