Alliance leadership vote set for March

Canadian Alliance decides to hold leadership convention in mid-March. Stockwell Day expected to resign by the end of the year.

Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day is expected to resign by the end of the year, now that the party has decided on an early leadership convention.

On Thursday, the Alliance's national council announced that it will hold the vote in mid-March rather than wait until the summer.

Day has promised to step down as leader 90 days before the convention is held. The embattled leader still hasn't said whether he will campaign to keep his job.

The names of several potential candidates have surfaced over the past few days, including former Alliance MP Stephen Harper and former Tory cabinet minister Jake Epp. Harper said he has not ruled out the possibility of running. Epp is expected to comment on his own leadership plans Friday.

Rebels, Tories meet in Quebec

Meanwhile, dissident Alliance MPs have gathered for a meeting with Progressive Conservatives at a mountain resort in Quebec.

Day has not been invited to the talks at Mont-Tremblant, which got under way Friday, although Tory leader Joe Clark will take part.

The two groups are expected to discuss new ways to achieve an old goal: uniting the right and defeating the governing Liberals in the next election. They hope to co-operate more in the House of Commons.

One Conservative MP, Peter MacKay, has said he plans to ask the Alliance rebels who call themselves the Democratic Representative Caucus (DRC) to join the Tories.

Harper has criticized the Alliance dissidents, who were suspended from the party's caucus earlier this year for publicly demanding Day resign. He said if they want to hold meetings with Clark and other Tories they should give up their memberships in the Alliance first.

Earlier Thursday, the head of the rebels, Chuck Strahl, dismissed allegations that a few disgruntled Alliance members were planning to get rid of Day as far back as a year ago.

There have been reports that some supporters of former leader Preston Manning were planning to discredit Day even before he defeated Manning and took over the party last summer.