Michaelle Jean, Canada’s governor general has cut short a trip in order to Europe to deal with a growing political crisis.
In an attempt to bring down the minority conservative government of Stephen Harper (photo) less than two months since a general election, opposition parties have united.
Mr Harper has indicated he will ask for a temporary suspension of parliament in order to stop the opposition from voting him out.
However if the vote takes place and he loses, the opposition will be asked by Ms Jean to form a government or call a snap poll.
“I think my presence is required in the country”, Ms Jean told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation from the Czech Republic.
“The prime minister and myself need to have a conversation… I have to see what the prime minister has to say to me and what he is actually thinking of doing.”
As the representative of head of state Queen Elizabeth II, Ms Jean’s role is usually largely ceremonial, but she has been thrusted into the centre of the political storm by developments of the past few days.
On Monday, the opposition Liberals and New Democrats agreed to form an alliance, backed by the Bloc Quebecois.They said the government was failing to tackle Canada’s economic problems.
Also Mr Harper’s proposals, since rescinded, to eliminate public financing of political parties angered them as it would have hit them hard.
In October, Mr Harper’s Conservatives were re-elected with a stronger mandate, but they failed to secure a majority. Therefore they must rely on the support of the opposition to pass budgets and laws.
The prime minister rounded on his opponents during Question Time in parliament on Tuesday.
“The highest principle of Canadian democracy is that if you want to be prime minister, you get your mandate from the Canadian people, not the separatists”, said Mr Harper, in a reference to the separatist Bloc Quebecois.
Stephane Dion, the Liberal leader, attacked Mr Harper for considering asking the governor general to prorogue parliament, saying it was a dodge to avoid a confidence vote.
“Every member of this House has a received a mandate from the Canadian people…The prime minister doesn’t have the support of this House”, he said.
The confidence motion is scheduled for 8 December. However, Mr Harper has indicated that he may seek the suspension of parliament until 27 January when the government is set to table its budget.