Federal leaders face off as country stands poised on brink of spring election
Published Wednesday, March 23, 2011 4:34PM CST
Manitobans could be headed to the polls once more if a federal election is called.
Prime Minister Stepher Harper said he doesn't want an election, but is so far refusing to make any amendments to a federal budget, announced March 22, which has drawn criticism from opposition parties.
"It is not too late from them to step back and think about the fragile global recovery," said Harper.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said that Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty still have an opportunity to make changes.
"There's still a little bit of time," he said. "I know that Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty are saying that they can't possibly talk about amending the budget. I don't know why. What's the big obstacle to that? Others have done it before," said Layton.
Paul Martin's Liberal minority government amended its budget in 2005 to meet NDP demands and avoid an election at the time.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said he plans to force an election with a non-confidence motion to be debated on Friday. The motion will state the House of Commons has lost confidence in the Harper minority government as a result of a committee finding it in contempt of parliament.
Ignatieff said a pending election would be about more than just ethics.
"We will fight them on the economy and we will win on the economy," said Ignatieff.
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe said he won't support the government and will try to force a budget vote before the week's end, meaning the government will likely fold one way or another by Friday.
An NDP official in Manitoba refused to say Wednesday if the party had candidates ready in the province. A handful of Manitoba ridings also don't have Conservative or Liberal candidates nominated to run yet in the event of an election.
Last fall, voters headed to the polls in Winnipeg, Brandon and rural municipalities for civic elections. On Oct. 4, a provincial election will also be held in Manitoba.
- with files from CTV's Laura Lowe and The Canadian Press