In a move which surprised even some inside observers, the Governor-General of Canada, the nominal head of state, agreed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s request to suspend Parliament until 27th of January to allow his minority government to avoid a vote of no confidence. The announcement, which came after this morning after a two hour personal meeting with the Governor General. Polls had shown that while Tory supporters were solidly behind the need for a new election if the government fell, the coalition’s public support was divided, and there was a general belief that Dion is not ready to be Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Harper will be able to open a new session with a new throne speech, but is, under the Canadian constitution, limited in his spending options and ability to make decisions. In effect the Governor General froze like a dear in the headlights, and has paralyzed Canada’s government for almost two months as the economic crisis deepens.