Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes a majority government "is in reach" for the Conservative party the next time Canadians go to the polls for a federal election.
In candid remarks made last week to Conservative supporters in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., at a meeting that was closed to the media, Harper stressed the need for the party to capture a majority.
"Let me be clear about this, we need to win a majority in the next election campaign," Harper said. "I am not just saying that because we need to win a few more seats."
He said that if the Conservatives don't succeed in getting a majority he predicted the Liberals will govern in a coalition with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois.
"If they get together and force us to the polls, we have to teach them a lesson and get back there with a majority, and make sure their little coalition never happens," said Harper.
Later in the speech, he says, "that government is in reach."
Harper's speech was videotaped by someone in the audience and a copy of the address was sent to the Liberal Party of Canada, which sent it to CBC News. The Liberals claim the tape shows that Harper doesn't want to work with the other parties in Parliament and therefore justifies Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's threat to force an election.
Publicly, the Conservatives have said it will be irresponsible of the opposition parties to bring down the government and send Canadians back to the polls.
The Liberals have said they will try to bring down the Conservative minority government at the first opportunity.
Parliament resumes Sept. 14, and the Liberals will have their first opportunity to present a no-confidence motion on Oct. 1.
Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe said earlier this week an election appears to be inevitable.
"Mr. Ignatieff doesn't seem to look like he's going to back down, and Mr. Harper is not the kind of man who makes compromises or who achieves consensus … so I think the chances of an election are great — more than great," Duceppe said.
The Liberals and the Bloc Québécois have both released a round of election-style advertisements.