Paul Martin's Liberals have rejected opposition demands that they call an election in the first week of January, a move that suggests the country is about to be plunged into a Christmas campaign.
After an afternoon of protracted bargaining, the three opposition party leaders announced that the Prime Minister must call a vote in January for a February election or they will trigger an election themselves next week. It's a manoeuvre that places the potentially unpopular decision to hold a campaign over the holidays and the loss of some popular legislation on Mr. Martin's shoulders.
"We all agree that we will support a New Democratic Party motion that will ask the government to call an election the first week of January, 2006," Conservative Leader Stephen Harper told a dinner-hour news conference yesterday.
That motion will be presented tomorrow, provided the Liberals permit it to be introduced on a scheduled Conservative opposition day. If the Liberals don't agree, the motion could be delayed until a Bloc Québécois opposition day on Thursday.
"If the government refuses to debate the motion, or refuses to accept it if it's adopted, with the support of the New Democratic Party we will present a motion on non-confidence the following week," Mr. Harper said.