Polls not enough to entice Ignatieff into election
OTTAWA - Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he has no interest in trying to force an election this spring, even though his party appears to be on the comeback trail.
Recent public opinion polls suggest the Liberals are now in a statistical dead heat with the Conservatives, with support for each party hovering just above 30 per cent.
That's a big improvement for Liberals, who plunged as much as 15 points behind the Tories last fall after Ignatieff declared his intention to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government at the earliest opportunity.
Ignatieff has since dropped all talk of provoking an election and the improving poll numbers aren't enticing enough for him to resume sabre rattling.
He says he wants to continue seeing his party through a renewal process -- which is to culminate in a thinkers' conference in Montreal at the end of March -- and earning the trust of Canadians.
And he says he's learned his lesson about making election threats.
"I got a message last autumn," the Liberal leader said Thursday. "Polls don't change that to me."
Asked point blank if he's thinking of a spring election, he replied bluntly, "Answer: No."
He declined to comment on what accounts for the improved polling picture, other than to say: "I've been down, I've been up. All I'll say is, up feels better."
The gap between the two main parties began closing late last fall once Ignatieff retracted his threat of an election.
It has essentially evaporated in the new year in the wake of Harper's controversial decision to prorogue Parliament until March.
Although polls also suggest the Tories have won top marks from Canadians on their handling of the Haiti earthquake disaster, that hasn't translated into stronger political support.