Will PM call fall election?

With Stockwell Day about to begin his second week of Question Period, some MPs are privately asking a question of their own: is an election imminent?

Prime Minister Jean Chretien has been warning Liberals to be ready to start campaigning at any time.

Many believe the election will be called in the spring.

But there are signs Chretien may want to act sooner:

  • Last week, Finance Minister Paul Martin announced the federal surplus will be larger than expected. There are hints that previously promised tax breaks could come sooner than expected a plus for any government hoping to stay in office.

  • While the recent agreement over health care has reduced tensions between Ottawa and the provinces, some Liberals are worried the truce might not last, especially as clinics and hospitals become crowded during the flu season.

  • A snap election could cause headaches for the Official Opposition, which chose a new leader only a few months ago. Many Liberals believe Day, who's never sat in Parliament before, and who's still adjusting to his role as head of the Canadian Alliance, would prefer to wait until spring.

But an election now would come only 3 1/2 years into the government's mandate, and some caucus members are said to be worried that Canadians would consider it unnecessary and opportunistic.