Fall election not inevitable, Layton says
Published Saturday, September 12, 2009 4:55PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 11:47PM EDT
NDP Leader Jack Layton says he doesn't believe an election is inevitable, despite speculation that a non-confidence vote next week could topple the Conservative government.
A ways-and-means motion is expected to be introduced in Parliament next Friday. If the opposition parties -- including the NDP -- vote against the Tories, Canadians would have their fourth election in five years.
At a Liberal caucus meeting two weeks ago, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff declared that he no longer supports Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government. Not long after, the party released a series of election-style ads, and the Bloc Quebecois followed suit.
Layton said Saturday he would prefer that the parties work together on Employment Insurance reform, a job-creation plan, help for the elderly and consumer protections.
"We'll side with the Canadian people, that's who we'll side with," Layton told CTV News Channel on Saturday. "And I guess I'm looking for results for Canadians. And I'm not ready to say that an election is somehow inevitable. We should be trying to make Parliament work."
Layton called on the party leaders to "put some of these partisan considerations -- the focus on how many seats you've got, how large your caucus is, and so on -- aside and instead get results for people that are in need."
But Strategic Counsel pollster Peter Donolo said each party will likely weigh how an election might sway their fortunes before deciding whether to support the government.
"The Liberals have made a calculation that I think makes sense for them -- that the longer they keep on supporting the government, the less they can differentiate themselves and set themselves up as an alternative," Donolo told News Channel.
Layton refused to say whether he would act as kingmaker and side with the Liberals should the Tories win the most seats in an election, or vice versa. He said he would not speculate on "hypothetical scenarios."
Layton would only say that should the opposition parties force a fall vote, the responsibility will be with the prime minister.
"In a minority Parliament you either work with people or you go into an election. That's a choice that Stephen Harper has got to make," Layton said. "I think leadership would suggest that he should work with other Parliamentarians."
Donolo said Layton may have other motives for propping up the Conservatives, beyond a legislative agenda.
"In Canadian history, minority governments have always had third parties keeping them in office, not the official opposition," Donolo said. "So Mr. Layton's probably considering that. Mr. Layton also has to consider how the NDP might fare in an election going forward."
Donolo said it is difficult to speculate where -- or if -- each party would make gains should Canadians go to the polls this fall.
Western Canada, with the exception of parts of B.C., is Conservative territory, while Atlantic Canada will largely support the Liberals, Donolo said. The Bloc will hold much of Quebec.
That may put Ontario in play as the province that could make or break an election fortune.
"The Conservatives have the most seats in Ontario and remember, they only need 12 more seats to win an election. But they have to hold on to everything they currently have," Donolo said. "So a race to a majority I think is what both leading parties want the election to be. And maybe Canadians are fed up with minorities and want a majority."