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Canadian leader suspends Parliament to stay in power

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Opposition accuses PM Harper of putting his job ahead of Canada's interests
  • Move postpones opposition parties' plan for no-confidence vote next week
  • Liberal and New Democratic parties join with Bloc Quebecois to try to unseat Tories
  • Vote likely would have brought down Canada's Conservative government
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(CNN) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday that Canada's governor general has allowed him to suspend Parliament, postponing a no-confidence vote from his opponents that he was likely to lose.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Parliament will resume on January 26.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Parliament will resume on January 26.

Harper called on his opponents to work with his government on measures to aid the nation's economy when Parliament returns on January 26.

"The first order of business will be the presentation of a federal budget," Harper told reporters outside the governor general's residence in Ottawa, Canada.

"Those who were elected here to serve the interest of Canada as a whole should work together -- at least to some degree -- on planning an economic plan for Canada."

Had Governor General Michaelle Jean -- who represents Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as head of state -- denied Harper's request, Monday's vote would have likely brought down Harper's government, less than two months after his Conservative Party strengthened its minority position in federal elections.

The Liberal Party and the leftist New Democratic Party announced plans earlier this week to form a governing coalition with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, which supports independence for French-speaking Quebec.

Liberal Party Leader Stephane Dion, the man who would fill Harper's role under the planned coalition, said the coalition would look to replace Harper unless he makes "monumental change."

"For the first time in the history of Canada, the prime minister of Canada is running away from the parliament of Canada," said Dion, accusing the premier of placing "partisan politics ahead of the interest of all Canadians."

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton said Harper had used a "maneuver to escape accountability."

"He refuses to face the people of Canada through their elected representatives," he said. "The prime minister is choosing to protect his own job rather than focusing on the jobs of Canadians who are being thrown out of work today."

The news comes one day after Harper appealed directly to Canadians for support, vowing in a nationally televised address on the economy to halt his opponents, whom he accused of imposing their own agenda on the Canadian people.

"Unfortunately, even before the government has brought forward its budget, and only seven weeks after a general election, the opposition wants to overturn the results of that election," said the prime minister, whose Conservative Party strengthened its minority position in federal elections on October 14. Outrage brewing in Canada

Harper rejected the idea of a "power-sharing coalition with a separatist party," referring to the Bloc Quebecois, and insisted the country must stand together.

"At a time of global economic instability, Canada's government must stand unequivocally for keeping the country together. At a time like this, a coalition with the separatists cannot help Canada," he said Wednesday.

"The opposition is attempting to impose this deal without your say, without your consent, and without your vote. This is no time for backroom deals with the separatists; it is the time for Canada's government to focus on the economy and specifically on measures for the upcoming budget. This is a pivotal moment in our history," he said.

Harper, 49, has served as prime minister since February 2006.

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