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Dion doesn't want an election until 2008

[PoliticsWatch updated 4:00 p.m., March 8, 2007]

OTTAWA — Canada's minority Parliament may stay alive for another 10 months if Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has his way.   

Dion told reporters Thursday that he does want to have an election this year. 

The leader of the Official Opposition's comments are in a stark contrast to his comments upon winning the Liberal leadership crown in December when he had a warning for the prime minister.

 "Stephen Harper, we are counting the days until the next election," he said at the time.

But now it seems the Liberals may have to count to at least 300 before an election comes if Dion has his way. 

"I'm not sure Canadians want an election every year," he said after delivering a speech at an Ottawa hotel. "It's very demanding to be always in an election. So I don't want an election."

If an election were to be held this spring, it would mark the third Canadian federal election within three years. 

The Liberals won a minority government in June of 2004 and the Conservatives won a minority government in January of 2006. The past two federal elections cost taxpayers an estimated $550 million combined. 

The Conservatives currently need the support of just one of the three opposition parties to survive confidence votes in the House of Commons.  

The next confidence vote could come as soon as March 26 a week after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tables his budget in Parliament. 

There is speculation that another one per cent cut to the GST could be in that budget, which many in Ottawa are viewing as a pre-election budget. 

During his speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa Thursday, Dion said as prime minister he would not cut another point off the GST, but would reduce personal income taxes instead.

"I believe Canadian taxpayers would rather take more money home on their paycheck than save a penny when they buy a cup of coffee," he said. 

When asked later by reporters if he would vote against Flaherty's budget if it included another GST cut, Dion said he won't comment on the budget until he sees it. 

"You don't request an election each time you disagree with the government," he said. "Otherwise you would request election all the time. I think Canadians deserve not to have an election every year."

While Dion said he doesn't want an election he is convinced that the Conservatives are plotting for an election soon. 

The prime minister has made more than $10 billion in spending announcements over the past few weeks, the Tories have spent a considerable amount of money for television attack ads questioning Dion's leadership abilities and the party plans to hold a candidates' school in Toronto next weekend. 

"Why would they do that if they were not planning an election?" Dion asked reporters. 

Last month when asked by reporters about a spring election, Harper said, "I don't think Canadians want an election, and I'm in no hurry to have an election." 

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