VANCOUVER, B.C. - Jean Chretien says Liberals should push for an election "the sooner the better."

And the former prime minister says his party is in "very good position to win." As the most successful Liberal leader in recent history, with three consecutive majority victories to his credit, Chretien's advice is likely to be taken seriously by Liberals.

They've gathered in Vancouver for a convention that will formally acclaim Michael Ignatieff as their new leader.

Some Grits would like to take advantage of a resurgence in the polls to topple Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government this spring.

But others, including strategists close to Ignatieff, are counselling patience.

They'd prefer an election in the fall or even after next year's federal budget, giving Ignatieff time to rebuild the party and top up its slowly-expanding war chest.

However, the timing will not be entirely up to the Liberals.

Harper's Tories are hoping to ride out the economic crisis, with the support of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, both of which have lost interest in forcing a snap election as Liberals fortunes have improved.

Ignatieff says he finds it "mildly amusing" that the NDP and BQ, after vowing to vote against the last budget without even waiting to see its contents, are now "making nice" with the Tories.

For his part, Ignatieff says the "clear signal" he's received from Canadians is that he should continue trying to make Parliament work.

And he says that's what he'll do as long as Parliament is able to deliver results for people.