Canada's Liberals say regaining financial footing

Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:24pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada's Liberal Party, which has been climbing in recent opinion polls, is also regaining its financial footing and the political unity it needs to fight a new election, leader Michael Ignatieff said on Thursday.

But Ignatieff added he was still in no rush to force an election so soon after last October's vote, and told party activists they still had hard work to do to regain the Liberals' standing as a "national institution" that could elect candidates in all parts of the country..

"We have a unified party. We have a party out of debt. And we have a party basically ready to fight an election," he told reporters in Vancouver at the start of the Liberal's Party national convention.

The Liberals are expecting about 1,500 delegates in Vancouver for the three-day gathering. Organizers have billed it as a "renewal" event and a chance for party members from across the country to meet Ignatieff, who has led them on an interim basis since late last year.

The delegates are all but certain to elect Ignatieff as permanent leader on Saturday.

A well-known author, broadcaster and historian who has spent most of his adult life outside of Canada, Ignatieff was picked by Liberal legislators in December to replace struggling leader Stephane Dion.

Dion led the Liberals to a poor showing in the October 14 election and suffered miscues during the November parliamentary crisis that saw the Liberals, New Democratic Party and Bloc Quebecois nearly bring down the minority Conservatives of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Ignatieff, who is more centrist than Dion, ended the coalition and allowed the Conservatives to survive while he tried to rebuild popular support and the party's finances.   Continued...