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Parliament suspended in Canada
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Canadian are deeply divided in their opinions about the political storm that has waged over the past week, with new polls showing deepening regional tension especially between the west and the east.

Governor General Michaelle Jean granted a request Thursday from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to prorogue Parliament until the end of January, allowing the Conservative government to sidestep a confidence motion next week that would have likely seen its fall.

The suspension of Parliament happened after the three opposition parties reached an unprecedented agreement to form a coalition government to replace Harper's government, which they said have lost the confidence of the House of Commons.

The proposed coalition, the first of its kind in the country's history, has sparked hot debate across Canada, with opponents accusing the oppositions of staging a "power grab" or even a "coup" while supporters seeing it as totally in accord with Canada's parliamentary system.

The oppositions have maintained they have the full right to govern if the government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, while the Conservatives have argued that a government can only be produced by an election.

While recent polls have shown a majority of Canadian, less than 60 percent opposed the coalition, a considerable population still supported it, suggesting the deep division among the public on this fundamental constitutional question, especially between the French-speaking Quebec and the west.

A poll by Strategic Counsel, released Friday, showed while nationally, 58 percent support the coalition as compared to 37 percent opposing it, in Quebec, 55 percent support the Liberal-NDP coalition and in the west only 24 percent support it.

Meanwhile, 39 percent of Quebecers opposed the coalition while a whopping 72 percent of people in the west were against it.

In another poll released by Ipsos-Reid, 60 percent opposed replacing the government with Liberal-NDP coalition supported by the Bloc Quebecois, compared with 37 percent who favored the idea. Support for the coalition was highest in Quebec at 50 percent, followed by 44 percent in Atlantic Canada.

Peter Donolo of the Strategic Counsel polling firm said the poll results show a rare "dramatic regional division since the Meech Lake crisis of the Mulroney government when the fabric of the country was really being torn."

That deep rift in regional sentiment is a more difficult hurdle than the current political uncertainty, for the government to overcome, Donolo said.

"That's the more serious, substantive crisis -- the unity crisis. And I think it's reflected in these numbers and that's what (Harper) is going to have to deal with moving forward."

Canadians are equally divided as to who should be to blame for the crisis, with the Strategic poll showing 45 percent blaming the Conservatives and 40 percent the oppositions, while the Ipsos-Reid showing the population divided almost evenly between blaming the government and the opposition parties.

However, both polls show that now a majority of Canadian are throwing their support for the Conservatives if an election is held. The Ipsos-Reid poll gave 46 percent while the Strategic Counsel 45 percent, well above the 40 percent, which is the least necessary.

(Reuters.com, Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2008)

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