Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said he has no problem with a Conservative proposal to cancel weeklong breaks for members of Parliament. ((Tom Hanson/Canadian Press))

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said he has no problem with a Conservative proposal to cancel weeklong breaks for members of Parliament.

"We've been back at work since the 25th of January. If [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] wants us to work through the breaks in March and April, fine," Ignatieff told reporters on Thursday. "But what we’ve been saying all along is that there was no good reason to shut down this Parliament."

Ignatieff was responding to memo sent by Conservative whip Gordon O'Connor to Tory MPs and senators on Wednesday, telling them to cancel the traditional weeklong March break and half of the two-week April break.

"The purpose of prorogation is to allow time to prepare for a new throne speech and budget, not to reduce the amount of time that the House sits," O'Connor wrote.

The decision, which needs unanimous approval by all parties, would force MPs to sit through a period when many of them take time off with their families.

"All [Harper's] excuses for shutting down Parliament have simply disappeared and now he’s in a scrambling act to kind of, you know, catch up, catch up to the Liberal Party," Ignatieff said. "We’ve been at work for two weeks and we've had some great results."


Conservative whip Gordon O'Connor has written to Tory MPs and senators, telling them to cancel plans for spring breaks. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

The usual procedure after a prorogation is to follow the established calendar, which would give MPs a weeklong break after March 15, just days after returning to the Commons on March 3. They would have another two weeks off in April, including the week of Easter.

The Conservatives have seen a precipitous and sustained drop in their popularity since Harper announced on Dec. 30 that he was suspending Parliament to "recalibrate" the government's agenda. An EKOS poll released Thursday suggests Conservatives and Liberals remain in a virtual tie for support for a third week in a row.

The poll, a random survey of 3,406 adult Canadians released exclusively to CBC News, asked which party they would vote for if an election were held tomorrow. It found 31.9 per cent would support the Liberals, compared with 31 per cent who would back the Conservatives.

The random survey was carried out between Jan. 27 and Feb. 2, and claims a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

With files from The Canadian Press