Of course being in a minority cannot prevent the opposition from forcing an election before the fixed date next year but Harper can prevent himself from doing so! His saying that he is not breaking any promise is a crock. Harper probably wants to call an election because he thinks that things are going to get worse in the economy and with scandals and who knows what else. Rather than let the Liberals determine the timing he will do it himself. Or maybe Harper has the impossible to resist syndrome a disease the inflicts prime ministers and premiers and paralyzes the will making it impossible to resist calling an election. This is from the CBC.
From this article it would seem that Harper may very well call an election before the coming byelections. Dion may be right that Harper worries he might not do well in those byelections.
Anyway Harper's calling the meeting with the leaders of other parties is surely a farce. I am surprised that any leaders actually agree to meet with him. A phone call would do. Anyway he already knows the Liberals will co-operate as long as they do not like the polls.
Early election call won't break any promises: Harper
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 2:00 PM ET CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he won't be breaking his promise to Canadians if he calls an election this fall, one year ahead of the fixed election date set by his own government.
He said the goal of the fixed election date — the next one being Oct. 19, 2009 — is to provide Canadians with some sense of certainty.
But, Harper argued, in the context of a minority government like the current one, certainty is never possible because opposition parties are always threatening to vote against the ruling party on confidence motions and topple the government.
"We are clear," Harper told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa. "You can only have certainty about a fixed election date in the context of a majority government.
"Look, if any of the opposition parties wanted to provide some, any degree of certainty that we'll be here to October 2009, then we'll have an election in October 2009."
He said the opposition parties have not shown their support — the NDP and Bloc have indicated they want an election called, while Harper said the Liberals have proposed their own $15.4-billion carbon-tax plan in June, suggesting they want the government to move in a different direction from the current path the Conservatives are on.
The prime minister said he is continuing to consider whether an election needs to be called, a decision he has said he expects to make in the next few weeks. Senior Conservatives have suggested Harper could pull the plug on his minority government as early as Sept. 2.
"The country must have a government that can function during a time of economic uncertainty," Harper said.
Can't wait for meeting with Dion
He said he is not willing to wait for Sept. 9, the day Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion has suggested he could meet with Harper to discuss the issue of whether Parliament can continue as is. The meeting would occur a day after three federal byelections in Quebec and Ontario; a fourth byelection is slated to take place in Ontario on Sept. 22.
"We don't need to wait three weeks for a meeting to occur," Harper said.
"As I have already said, this shows a fundamental difference between the government and the opposition parties, and particularly Mr. Dion, who has proposed an economic agenda [the carbon-tax plan] which is completely the opposition of the government's program."
The CBC's Keith Boag, covering Harper's news conference in Ottawa, said Tuesday's comments marked the first time Harper has been direct in answering questions about the possibility he will call an election.
Harper didn't say an election would depend on what Dion decides, or on any other conditions, as he has in past news conferences.
"The prime minister is not trying to be coy about it in any way at all anymore," Boag said. "He more or less accepted that an election is going to happen."
"When the prime minister himself is talking that way, you can pretty much take it to the bank that he's made up his mind that he'll have to call an election very, very soon."