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Canada heads for snap election on Oct. 14

Latest update : 2008-09-02

According to wire reports, Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper plans to ask for a dissolution of Parliament to make way for a new election to be held on October 14, after the opposition ejected an agenda for the upcoming parliamentary session.

OTTAWA - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will as expected this week ask for a dissolution of Parliament and call an election for Oct. 14, the Canadian Press quoted senior government sources as saying late on Monday.

Hours earlier, Harper failed to persuade the country's main opposition leader to keep his minority Conservative government alive.

Harper aides have already pointed to Oct. 14 as a likely date for what would be Canada's third election in four years.

A spokeswoman for Harper declined to comment on the Canadian Press report, while the prime minister's chief spokesman did not respond to phone and e-mail questions.

The breakdown of the talks between Harper and Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion was not a surprise.

Harper, who won power in January 2006, has made it clear over the past few weeks he thinks an election is the only way to fix what he sees as a dysfunctional Parliament.

Before an election can be called, Governor General Michaelle Jean, who represents Canada's head of state, Britain's Queen Elizabeth, must agree to a formal request from Harper to dissolve Parliament. Her approval is considered a formality.

Harper and Dion blamed each other after an unproductive 20-minute meeting at Harper's official residence, with both sides insisting the other wanted an election.

Chief Harper spokesman Kory Teneycke said Harper would "have to deliberate over the next few days and make a decision in due course" on an election call.

Opinion polls show the most likely result of an election now would be another minority Conservative government.

Teneycke said Dion had rejected a request from Harper to keep him in power until October 2009, which under fixed date legislation is the scheduled time of the next election.

"We are simply looking for broad areas of agreement ... there were no areas identified by the opposition leader where he had any common ground," Teneycke told reporters.

"The opposition obviously want an election," he said. "If they wanted to avoid an election, they would identify areas of common ground where the government could move forward. And without exception, none of them have been able to (do so)."

CARBON TAX PROPOSAL

Dion's main plank in the election campaign will be what he says is a revenue-neutral carbon tax designed to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.

Harper says the tax would be a disaster at a time when the economy is suffering from the U.S. slowdown, and points to muttering inside Liberal ranks about the wisdom of the move.

Dion said he had pressed the prime minister to explain why he was breaking the spirit of the fixed date legislation.

"The reason he mentioned -- that Parliament is not working -- is only a charade, it's a fake," he said. "He's doing it ... because he doesn't want Canadians to have too much time to see how ill-prepared he is to face the economy."

Asked if there was going to be an election, Dion replied: "Oh yes. We all know that ... he had decided that anyway."

Harper says the fixed date legislation -- which he himself introduced -- was never supposed to apply to minority governments, a stance that has prompted widespread criticism.

Harper took over from former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, who won a minority government in a June 2004 election.
 

Date created : 2008-09-02

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