Canada PM to meet rival as election looms

Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:02pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has scheduled a meeting with opposition leader Stephane Dion for Monday, their offices said, in a further sign a general election could be called within days.

Harper had asked to meet the leaders of the three major opposition parties to determine if they would work with his minority Conservative government through the autumn.

He met with two of the leaders but Liberal Party leader Dion said previously he would not be able to meet until September 9.

The government needs the support of at least one opposition party to get bills passed.

On Sunday, Dion did not appear to be in the mood for compromise.

"The prime minister wants to see if we have common ground. He has no vision to address the climate change crisis, has no plan to reinvigorate the Canadian economy, which is teetering on the brink of a recession," he said in a statement.

Jack Layton, head of the leftist New Democratic Party, and Gilles Duceppe, leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, both came away from meetings with Harper in recent days convinced the prime minister was determined to go to the polls.

A key adviser to Harper has pointed to October 14 as a likely date for a general election.

Harper and Dion will meet at 4 p.m. EDT on Monday, the Labour Day holiday in Canada.   Continued...