Liberals torn on forcing early election

Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:00pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

SUDBURY, Ontario (Reuters) - Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said on Monday he would not support a government that was not doing its work but he sidestepped whether he would topple the minority government.

"I can't be an accomplice to a government that isn't doing its work," Ignatieff told reporters as members of his caucus arrived for meeting that will focus on whether to force an early election.

Yet he would not say whether that means the country is likely to head into its fourth election in 5-1/2 years.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper led his Conservative Party to reelection last October, with more seats before but still a minority, requiring the support of at least one of the three opposition parties.

Ignatieff faces the delicate question of whether to risk bringing the government down during fragile economic times and risk suffering the third straight Liberal loss -- or to face ridicule for continuing to keep the government alive.

"We're going to have a good discussion and we'll make a decision when it suits us," said Ignatieff, who took over as party leader from Stephane Dion after an abysmal Liberal performance in October.

Ignatieff said the Liberals had kept the government in power for the past 10 months because the Liberals had put the country's interests before the party's interests.

"Welcome to the wonderful world of opposition!" he said when a reporter asked him if he felt damned if he brought the government down and damned if he kept it in power.   Continued...

<p>Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff speaks during a news conference on the first day of the Liberal caucus summer retreat in Sudbury, Ontario, August 31, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>