Main Canada opposition says won't defeat gov't

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OTTAWA, Oct 17 (Reuters) Canada's main opposition Liberal Party, in serious disarray and limping in national polls, pledged today not to bring down the minority Conservative government over its policy platform.

''We will not make the government fall on its Throne Speech, which would cause a third general election in four years, something Canadians have clearly shown they do not want,'' Liberal leader Stephane Dion told the House of Commons.

Drama on Parliament Hill had heightened this week because the Throne Speech, which opens Parliament and sets the government's agenda, is a matter of confidence and if it were voted down, Canadians would go to the polls.

The Conservatives were elected in January 2006 and require the support of at least one opposition party to remain in power. If they do not fall, the next election is set for October 2009.

Dion offered a hostile amendment to the speech, one Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office said afterward also would force an election if it were passed.

But that amendment appeared destined to be defeated, ensuring the government's survival. The New Democratic Party, the smallest in Parliament but with enough votes to sustain the Conservatives, said the Liberal amendment made no sense.

''This is contrary to the policies our party has supported.

We've been very clear on it and Mr Dion clearly knew that,'' NDP leader Jack Layton told reporters.

Dion said that if his amendment failed, then the Liberals would abstain on the final vote on the Throne Speech. The Conservatives outnumber the other two parties and therefore an election would be averted.

REUTERS CS BST0305

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