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Factsheet: When might we vote?

Globe and Mail Update

When might we vote

An election must be held on a non-holiday Monday after a campaign of at least 36 days. According to the opposition plan, a no-confidence vote triggering an election could happen on one of several dates:

Opposition parties say voters are telling them they are not put off by the idea of a winter-holiday election campaign, as they pressed ahead yesterday with plans to topple the minority Liberal government Nov. 28 and trigger a January vote.

A confidence vote on a government money bill is scheduled Dec. 8 and a defeat could trigger an election Jan. 16.

Steps to defeat a government

1. Government loses the confidence of the House of Commons by losing a no-confidence vote, a money bill/budget or a vote deemed by the government as a vote of confidence.

2. The Prime Minister seeks dissolution of the government and call for an election to be held

3. At this point, the Governor-General has the option to refuse dissolution and ask the Official Opposition whether it wants to try to form a government, or if it could hold the confidence of the House. This happened in 1926 when Tory Arthur Meighen briefly was Prime Minister after the Governor-General refused William Lyon Mackenzie King's request to dissolve the government.

4. If another government is not formed, then an election can be called.


Budget or money bill

A money bill or budget is seen as a vote of confidence. A government can be brought down on their budget-implementation bill, as was seen last spring. On Dec. 8, the Liberals are to bring forward supplementary estimates to announce new spending or offer details of earlier expenditures, the ensuing vote could bring down the government. That would result in a Jan. 16 vote, with leaders' debates falling between Christmas and New Years

No-confidence motion

The opposition parties can put forward a no-confidence motion on an "opposition day,".

Vote declared motion of confidence

A government can also declare a measure a vote of confidence. That is unlikely to happen during this session of Parliament.

Bills that could die if government falls

Energy-cost assistance

C-66: An act to authorize payments to provide assistance in relation to energy costs, housing energy consumption and public transit infrastructure, and to make consequential amendments to certain acts.

Would provide cheques of $125 or $250 to 3.1 million households to cover rising energy costs, at a total price tag of $565-million.

Received first reading in the House of Commons.

Whistle-blower protection

C-11: An act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose the wrongdoings.

Would allow civil servants to alert the government of wrongdoing in their department without compromising their positions.

Passed by the House of Commons, awaiting Senate passage

Pot decriminalization

C-17: An act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

The marijuana decriminalization bill would impose fines instead of criminal sentences against people caught with small quantities of the drug.

Received first reading in the House of Commons

Do-not-call list

C-37: An act to amend the Telecommunications Act.

The unsolicited telecommunications bill prevents telemarketers from phoning households on a do-not-call list.

Passed by the House of Commons, awaiting Senate passage

Financial items

Supplementary estimates to be voted on Dec. 8:

A $220-million increase in Old Age Security payments and guaranteed income supplement payments.

A $100-million program to compensate farmers for the mad-cow crisis.

A $6-billion transfer to the provinces to cover health and education costs.

Minority governments brought down on a no-confidence vote

1979 - Joe Clark's Tories lose vote on budget

1974 - Pierre Trudeau's Liberals. Commons passes a no-confidence motion on the budget

1963 - John Diefenbaker's Conservatives lose confidence

1926 - Arthur Meighen's Conservatives lose confidence vote

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