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Dion predicts victory

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:15 p.m. March 29, 2007]

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion addresses the Liberal caucus on Thursday. 

OTTAWA  — The leader of Canada's Official Opposition delivered an election-style speech to his caucus on Thursday and predicted his party would win the upcoming federal election.  
"We don’t want an election. But if an election comes, it’s an election we’re going to win,"  Liberal leader Stephane Dion predicted. 

He also challenged the conventional wisdom in Ottawa that his party is not ready for a spring election.  Many reporters and pundits believe now would be an opportune time for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to call an election partly because the Liberals are still recovering from their leadership race. 

The Conservatives are said to be prepared to go on 24-hours notice if necessary. 

"If the prime minister wants to force an election on Canadians, so be it. The Liberal Party is ready," Dion said. 

The Liberal leader pointed to the Conservatives' television attack ads, the party's candidate training school in Toronto and a recent budget containing billions in new spending as signs that an election is coming. 

Despite Dion's suspicions and a number of recent polls that put the Conservatives at the minimum level of support needed to form a majority government, the prime minister this week denied publicly and privately that he plans to have a spring election. 

"The public didn't elect me to sit around looking for election opportunities," Harper said on Tuesday. "The public elected me and elected our government to govern on its platform. We've got a lot of work to do to continue to get things done."

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe told reporters Wednesday that Harper approached him in the House of Commons this week and privately told him that he had no plans for a spring campaign. 

If Harper were to force an election there could be some political damage not only because of his denials of a desire to have one.  

The Conservatives campaigned in the last election on a promise to bring in fixed election dates. Last year, the Conservative government introduced legislation that would set a fixed election date of October 19, 2009. 

That bill was passed in the Senate this week with a minor amendment. 

Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale pushed the government on Thursday to give Royal Assent to the bill so it would become law. 

The final hurdle would be for the House to consent to the minor amendment. Goodale used his weekly Thursday question to the Government House Leader in the House of Commons to get unanimous consent to pass a motion. 

He said the Conservatives were the only party not to accept the his offer. 

"The only person standing in the way of having fixed election dates is Stephen Harper himself," Goodale told PoliticsWatch after question period.

Goodale said the Conservatives' reluctance to give the bill Royal Assent raises questions about the prime minister wanting to keep his options open for an early election.  

"This is just one more little bit of evidence that he's trying to contrive the situation," Goodale told PoliticsWatch. 

"When he says he wants fixed election dates, he simply wants that as a political issue to flog. He's not really interested in having fixed election dates because it fetters his political discretion."

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> Liberals concerned Dion surrounded by 2006 election loss deniers

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