Dion, under pressure, to meet media

Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:18am EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The leader of Canada's official opposition Liberals, under pressure to quit after a disastrous election performance this week, will hold a news conference on Monday, officials said on Friday.

Stephane Dion's party won 76 of Parliament's 308 seats -- a drop of 19 from the January 2006 election -- and gathered 26.2 percent of the vote, the lowest since 1867.

Although aides did not immediately respond to queries about what Dion might announced at 2 p.m. EDT, analysts, media commentators and even some Liberal legislators say he has to quit.

"It's about time he exits with grace and dignity. He's an honest man. He's got a lot of integrity," Liberal member of Parliament Jim Karygiannis told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Friday.

Dion, a French-speaker who had trouble expressing himself in English, campaigned on a promise to bring in a carbon tax at a time of high fuel prices and a stock market crash.

If Dion does not quit, the cash-strapped party will have to hold an full-scale review convention next May to decide whether members want to launch a leadership race.

If he does decide to resign, he can either leave immediately or stay on as an interim leader until a replacement is chosen.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Frank McGurty)

<p>Liberal leader Stephane Dion waves to supporters at his election night headquarters in Montreal, October 14, 2008. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>