Canada fall election more likely, government says

Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:06pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's minority Conservative government will more likely call an autumn election, after meetings with opposition leaders failed to find common ground on Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's spokesman said.

"It's looking more likely than it was before these meetings," the prime minister's spokesman, Kory Teneycke, told reporters outside Harper's residence after the second of two meetings with opposition leaders.

Harper, elected with a minority of seats in Parliament in January 2006, had asked for the meetings to see if any of the three opposition parties would agree to cooperate.

He has suggested that if not, he would have Parliament dissolved next week for an October 14 election.

Jack Layton, leader of the leftist New Democratic Party, said after meeting Harper that his party continued to have no confidence in the government.

He also gave a readout of the prime minister's view, saying of Harper: "He said that he doubted that there was any common ground."

The prime minister reached a similar conclusion after meeting Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe on Friday and does not expect any cooperation from Liberal leader Stephane Dion, head of Canada's largest political party, Teneycke said.

By some counts, Harper's is already the longest minority government in Canadian history. When Canadian minority governments are new, opposition parties typically are unwilling to bring them down as the people just spoke at the ballot box.   Continued...

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers questions after delivering a speech announcing a new Polar class Arctic Icebreaker for the Canadian north to be named after former Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, August 28, 2008. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>