February 27, 2009 / 5:38 PM / in 9 years

Canadians do not want new election: Harper

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging Parliament to pass his government’s stimulus package quickly, said on Friday that Canadians do not want another election.

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to media and guests during a transportation funding announcement in Burnaby British Columbia, February 26, 2009. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford</p>

The minority Conservatives won last October’s election with a strengthened mandate and Harper said on Thursday that if the opposition parties blocked the budget implementation bill, they would find themselves in another election.

All of the fiscal measures in the budget package are confidence matters that would trigger an election if they were defeated, he told reporters after announcing a highway project on Friday.

“The opposition cannot have it both ways. They cannot complain that we are slow to deliver our economic policies and then attempt to block delivery of those economic policies. So the choice to them is very clear,” Harper said.

“The choice of Canadians is clear. Canadians do not want an election. They want this Parliament to get on with passing these economic measures and get them implemented.”

The main opposition Liberal Party has said it will back the budget measures for now, but would carry out reviews every few months to see if the stimulus plans were being implemented appropriately.

“We’ve been clear that getting stimulus into the economy is the top priority for Canadians,” Jill Fairbrother, spokeswoman for Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, told Reuters in Ottawa.

“We will hold this government accountable and will be prepared to vote against them if they are not meeting the test and serving the needs of Canadians.”

The Liberals have little money to mount a new federal election campaign, especially by comparison with the Conservatives, and are not as well organized. But they have been encouraged by some recent polls showing them close to the Conservatives in popularity after trailing badly.

Reporting by Rod Nickel and Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson

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