Economy, not election, will be government's focus
The federal government is focusing its attention on the economy for the coming session of Parliament and is not concerned about the possibility of a snap election, Government House Leader John Baird said Thursday.
"We have an opportunity with this fall session over the next three months to focus on Canadians' priorities and that's jobs and the economy," Baird told a news conference in Ottawa.
With Canada's recovery from last year's economic downturn still fragile, he said that will remain the government's priority – not speculation about a fall election.
Besides, Baird added, the Opposition seems to have little appetite for forcing an election either.
"No one's talking about an election this fall," he said. "But a week is a long time in politics so we'll see what happens. But I could not be clearer that our objective is not to have an election."
But with waning U.S. growth and a stumbling recovery threatening jobs in Canada, the Tories want to present a united national voice on the economy and are willing to co-operate with opposition parties to keep it a priority.
"We're going to … approach things with an open mind: We do want to work together," he said. "I've offered to collaborate with my three colleagues and we'll see how it goes."
But Baird was quick to add: "I don't expect it's going to be a bed of roses."
The other key points in the government's agenda could make relations between the minority government and the Opposition stickier.
Baird said security, including tough-on-crime measures and legislation to combat human smuggling will also be on the table for the fall sitting as well as the contentious bill to kill the long-gun registry.
He suggested that the bill, which passed second reading thanks to the support of a dozen New Democrats and eight Liberals, will likely be defeated when it comes up next week.
"We always knew this was a challenging issue for a minority Parliament," he said. "So we'll see how it goes."
And Baird sniped at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP Leader Jack Layton over the gun registry issue, calling them "the two Toronto leaders, Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Layton."
But he said the economy will remain the government's focus this fall, although he ruled out another round of economic stimulus spending"We can't balance the budget and continue billions of dollars in new spending," he said.