August 30, 2008 / 6:09 PM / in 9 years

Canadian government says autumn election more likely

OTTAWA (Reuters) - An autumn Canadian election is more likely now after opposition meetings with Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper turned up no common ground, his spokesman said on Saturday.

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers a speech to Conservative Party supporters at the Croatian Parish Park in Mississauga, August 18, 2008. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese</p>

“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, to seek a fresh mandate in the current tough economic times.

Jack Layton, leader of the leftist New Democratic Party, said after meeting Harper on Saturday 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 the largest group, the Liberal Party, Teneycke said.

Reporting by Randall Palmer, editing by Chris Wilson

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