Layton predicts fall election call after meeting with Harper
NDP Leader Jack Layton emerged from a brief meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday saying that a fall election appears to be imminent.
At the end of the 30-minute meeting at Harper's residence in Ottawa, Layton told reporters that nothing had changed from before their discussion.
"He seems intent on quitting his job. I told him if he's prepared to quit his job he can explain that failure to Canadians," Layton said outside the gates of 24 Sussex Dr. around 1:30 p.m. ET.
Harper has sought meetings with all three opposition leaders to see if they can agree on an agenda for the fall session of Parliament, scheduled to begin Sept. 15.
Layton said he noted health care, the economy, the environment and food security and the listeriosis outbreak as key priorities for parliament, but that Harper said there was little common ground between his Conservative party and the NDP.
"As prime minister, I told [him] I would have been convening the leaders to figure out how we work on these key issues," Layton told reporters.
"I got no sense the prime minister is prepared to do what I would do if I were prime minister."
Layton's forecast echoed that of Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe, who met with the prime minister on Friday.
Following their discussion, Duceppe said the Conservative minority could continue to work with various opposition parties to pass legislation, as it has over the last two years, but that Harper "absolutely" wants to call a snap election.
"Instead of making efforts to try finding solutions in the best interest of the population, he wants an election in the best interest of his party," Duceppe said.
Later in the day, senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office said it's probable Harper will seek to dissolve Parliament next week, sending the country to the ballot box on Oct. 14.
Harper, who earlier this month said Parliament is becoming increasingly dysfunctional, said he wants to meet all three opposition leaders to see whether they will support his government in the fall session.
The Liberals' Stephane Dion declined to hold talks around the same time as the two other opposition leaders, but said he'll be willing to meet Harper after the Sept. 8 byelections and before Parliament's scheduled resumption on Sept. 15.
With files from the Canadian Press