Michael Ignatieff said he would not form a coalition government with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois on Saturday, while Conservative Leader Stephen Harper accused the Liberal leader of harbouring a secret agenda.

Discussions about the spectre of a coalition government dominated the first day of the federal election, which officially began after Harper met with Gov. Gen. David Johnston Saturday morning and asked to have Parliament dissolved.

Ignatieff said he was fighting to form a Liberal government on May 2, and would be looking to work with other parties on an issue-by-issue basis in the next Parliament.

He said whichever party wins the most seats on election day wins the right to form the government.

"This is about a Liberal government and not a coalition government," Ignatieff told reporters on Saturday.

"This is an election about democracy. I feel I owe it to the Canadian people to be perfectly clear so they know what they are doing when they vote for the Liberal Party," he added.

But Harper said Canadians should not swayed by Ignatieff's statements, telling reporters that he was not to be trusted.

"Everyone knows their record they will deny it during the election they will do it after if they can get away with it," Harper told reporters after asking Gov. Gen. David Johnston to dissolve parliament.

"The only way Canadians can be sure it does not happen if to elect a stable national government the only way they can get that is to elect a stable national Conservative government because we are the only ones that can form that kind of government."

The Conservatives have accused Ignatieff of being in bed with "socialists and separatists" since he said he was willing to lead a coalition government with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois in 2008.

On Saturday, Ignatieff attempted to clarify the democratic rules of the country, saying that whoever wins the most seats wins the right to form government and seek the confidence of the elected Parliament.

Ignatieff said that while coalitions were a legitimate constitutional option, he felt it best to work with other parties on an "issue-by-issue" basis.

Harper appeared more comfortable with the notion of a coalition government in 2004, when he wrote to the Governor General that he had been in close consultation with NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe. His letter suggested he was ready to form an alternative government with NDP and Bloc support.

The Conservatives have defended their stance saying the 2004 agreement was never described as a coalition, but as a "co-operative effort."

"In 2004 I made it very clear that I would not form a coalition. Same thing in 2006, same thing in 2008 and same thing now. If we don't win we don't form a coalition that's democracy," Harper said on Saturday.

But Duceppe said Harper was lying about his 2004 plans, telling reporters that Harper met with him to hammer out the details and even talked about a legislative agenda.

"He came to my office and said 'What do you want in the speech from the throne?'," Duceppe said.