Harper might pull plug on Parliament

Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:30pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Tuesday he would decide in coming weeks whether an election is needed to give a new mandate to a Parliament that he has increasingly described as dysfunctional.

Harper, who has expressed growing frustration with what he calls Liberal Party obstruction, has recently begun hinting he might force the dissolution of Parliament and call a new election.

The Conservatives won the last general election in January 2006 with only a minority of seats in the House of Commons, meaning they must rely on the support of at least one opposition party to govern.

Polls put the Conservatives in a virtual tie with the main opposition Liberals, and Harper allowed that the most likely result of a new vote would be another minority government.

"I think polls do indicate that the next election in all likelihood would be a minority, one way or the other," he told reporters during a funding announcement in Hamilton, Ontario.

"But the fact of the matter is what I will have to decide over the next few weeks is whether or not we can have a productive fall session of Parliament, or whether in fact the government -- a government -- needs a new mandate."

He said he would seek the input of some opposition leaders in analyzing the situation to "ensure that, one way or another, we can have a productive Parliament in the future."

An Ipsos-Reid poll released on Tuesday showed that public opinion is beginning to tip in favor of pulling the plug.   Continued...

<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers a speech to Conservative Party supporters at the Croatian Parish Park in Mississauga, August 18, 2008. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese</p>