Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday he has no intention of calling a fall election, but will not bow to pressure from opposition parties who have demanded changes to the government's agenda.

"The choice is not an election or obstruction, the choice is an election or give the government the mandate to govern," Harper said in his first news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa since taking office.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe has outlined five "non-negotiable" conditions he wants the government to meet in its Oct. 16 throne speech, including an end to Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan by February 2009.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has also made demands, including clarification over the Afghanistan mission and the support of Bill C-30 on climate change.

"We always listen very carefully to what the opposition says, and we will attempt, as far as the throne speech can, to address the issues that they have raised," said Harper.

"We always listen very carefully to what the opposition says, and we will attempt, as far as the throne speech can, to address the issues that they have raised," said Harper.

However, he went on to say: "We're going to ask Parliament for a mandate. Once we have that mandate, we're going to consider that basically gives us the right to consider those matters confidence going forward and to get results and get things done.

"Obviously, if we don't get approval, the opposition will force an election. That's not my preferred course of action, but if they force that, we'll be ready for it."

The National Press Theatre is operated by members of the parliamentary press gallery, meaning the prime minister has no control over who is asking questions.

Before Wednesday, Harper had never used the theatre since becoming elected 20 months ago.

Harper has had a sometimes frosty relationship with the national press corps, stemming from his staff's tight control over new conferences and lack of accessibility to MPs and cabinet ministers.

The prime minister said he was surprised when Duceppe listed his non-negotiable demands, following byelection results in Quebec where the Conservatives took a seat in the Bloc stronghold of Roberval--Lac-Saint-Jean.

The Liberals lost their longtime stronghold of Outremont to the NDP, while the Bloc held onto the remaining Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot riding.

"I think it's been an unusual couple of weeks in Canadian politics," said Harper.

"We've had the byelection results in Quebec, and I know I'm not supposed to be an analyst, but as an analyst I wouldn't have predicted that the results of those byelections would be a message to Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Dion to make non-negotiable demands -- otherwise, to demand a general election."

He also reiterated previous comments that an election would likely result in another minority government.

"We're entering a period of minority government. We've had a couple in a row now," he said Wednesday.

He added that with four political parties securing a minimum of 20 seats each, it would be difficult for any side to win a majority of votes.

"I think the possibility of a minority government in a subsequent election is pretty high," he said. "At the same time, I don't think Canadians want an election and the government is not seeking an election."

Meanwhile, NDP Jack Layton said Wednesday he had a "one-on-one meeting" with the prime minister about the upcoming throne speech.

"I presented to him the direction that we in the NDP feel the prime minister should be following," Layton told reporters after Harper's press conference.

"We feel that he's off track with the majority of Canadians on key issues."

Among those issues, Layton said, was the "widening prosperity gap" in Canada and the Conservative government's weak record on the environment.

The NDP also wants troops pulled from Afghanistan earlier than February 2009.