OTTAWA - Michael Ignatieff has introduced a Liberal motion in the House of Commons declaring non-confidence in the minority government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Without the support of both the other opposition parties -- the Bloc Quebecois and NDP -- the motion is purely symbolic of a Liberal party reasserting its role as the official Opposition in Parliament.

New Democrats, who supported the Conservative government in its last near-death experience last month, will vote against the non-confidence measure late Thursday, ensuring the Tories continue governing and sparing voters their second trip to the polls in 12 months.

"We will do our job, even if they will not," Ignatieff told the nearly empty Conservative benches in the Commons after detailing his list of government failings for more than 10 minutes.

NDP Leader Jack Layton has said he wants to see changes to employment insurance, worth about $1 billion, get passed into law and he's not prepared to endanger the changes by bringing down the government.

Before entering the Commons to introduce his motion, Ignatieff told reporters his party had done "much soul-searching" before coming to the conclusion it could no longer support the Tories.

Liberal support -- or Liberal abstentions on confidence votes -- has kept the Harper government in power for more than three years.

But the corrosive impact of that begrudging support was hollowing out internal Liberal party morale.

Citing the unemployed, displaced forestry workers, and students, Ignatieff said he can no longer support the Harper government and what he called its "'starve-the-beast' ideology."

"How do I explain to these people that I keep letting this government go on?" Ignatieff told reporters.

"And that's why, in my heart of hearts, after much reflection, we've decided as a party that we can't continue to give the government confidence in the House of Commons."

"It's up to other parties to make their own judgments on this matter."

In changing the parliamentary dynamic, Ignatieff has taken a great deal of heat from a large majority of Canadian public opinion that is not prepared for another general election so soon after the last.

Many Liberal MPs also have cold feet at the prospect of a return trip to the polls.

Whether the Liberal leader truly wants an election now or is merely strategically repositioning his party remains unanswered.

Ignatieff walked away from reporters as he was asked whether he actually wants an election this fall.