Stephane Dion (photo), the head of Canada’s main opposition Liberal party has said he will step down once a replacement is chosen.
He said he would resign after a coalition of opposition parties failed last week to unseat Stephen Harper, the country’s Conservative prime minister, and his government.
“I recommend this course to my party and caucus. As always, I want to do what is best for my country and my party, especially when Canadians’ jobs and pensions are at risk”, said Mr Dion in a statement on Monday.
In October, his party suffered an important defeat in national elections. Then the Liberal party tried to overthrow Mr Harper by signing a deal with the New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois parties. But it was thwarted when Mr Harper suspended Canada’s parliament until January.
Though Mr Dion had originally planned to step down in May, he said the party wanted a new leader in place before January 27, when the new federal budget will be put to vote.
Michael Ignatieff, deputy head of the Liberal party, is expected to replace Dion as interim leader by as early as Wednesday.
A no-confidence vote on the budget could set off another election or replace the Conservatives with a coalition government made up of the Liberals and two other parties.
But opinions polls say the country is not in favour of a coalition.
Earlier this month, the three opposition parties united against Mr Harper after he announced a plan to scrap political subsidies for political parties. Opposition groups rely on it a lot more than the Conservative party. That proposal has since been withdrawn.
However, the opposition has continued to seek to unseat Canada’s prime minister, saying that he has failed to protect the country from the current global financial crisis has not offered any form of economic stimulus plan.
Even though they won the October 14 election, Mr Harper’s Conservatives failed to obtain the majority of parliament’s 308 seats. Therefore to pass budgets and legislation they must rely on the opposition.