Canada set for third general election in four years

Mon Sep 1, 2008 5:59pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada looked to be heading for its third election in four years on Monday after Prime Minister Stephen Harper failed to persuade the country's main opposition leader to keep his minority Conservative government alive.

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

Harper aides have already pointed to October 14 as a likely date.

The breakdown of the talks was not a surprise.

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

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.   Continued...

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Canada's northern premiers during his Western Arctic tour in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, August 28, 2008. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>