Canada election campaign might start next week

Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:14pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Declaring the Canadian Parliament to be at an impasse, Prime Minister Stephen Harper signaled on Tuesday that he could call an election by as early as next week.

"There are increasing indications it will not be possible to have a fruitful session of Parliament because of the impasse between ourselves and the opposition on a number of files, particularly on key economic issues," Harper said.

"The country must have a government that can function during a time of economic uncertainty, and if it's not this government or this Parliament, the public will have an opportunity to decide whom," he said.

Harper's assertions were quickly dismissed by Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion who has questioned the prime minister's increasing election talk in recent weeks.

"Today is an additional episode of a continuing saga of a fabricated emergency by the prime minister," Dion said.

Harper's office had previously said he wanted to reach a decision before Parliament's scheduled September 15 return from its summer recess.

But he said on Tuesday he was now considering doing this before by-elections scheduled for September 8 to fill three vacant seats in the House of Commons.

The election timing may hinge on whether, and when, he can hold discussions with Dion to see if there is any common ground to allow the current Parliament to continue.   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>