As Ignatieff notes it is the Liberals who have kept the Conservatives on life support. I guess the Liberals with their soft hearts could not bear to see the Conservative government die. Will they really be so hard-hearted as to let it die this fall? We will see. It is surprising that Ignatieff is so hawkish when the polls would seem to indicate that he has not much chance of winning a minority let alone a majority. Perhaps he realises that the Liberals look to be perpetual life supporters as far as the Conservative government is concerned. Or maybe he thinks that he can safely challenge the Conservatives because the NDP will take its turn at providing life support! But that seems risky and for the most part the Liberals have been risk averse for some time.
Ignatieff: Harper government on 'life support'
Updated Tue. Sep. 1 2009 8:27 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's main task today: turn the doves in his caucus into hawks, and set forth a plan to take down the Tory government in the fall.
"We've kept this government on life support for 10 months," Ignatieff said during a summer caucus retreat in Sudbury, Ont. on Monday, noting his party supported the Tories' recession budget last January despite major reservations.
"But in June I made it clear that in a whole number of areas, the government's performance was letting Canada down and it hasn't got better over the summer."
CTV parliamentary correspondent Roger Smith, reporting from Sudbury, said tempering the leader's hawkish tone in caucus are Liberals who are pleading for a more cautious approach.
They're saying, "'It's only been a year since the last election; the polls show us in a dead heat, at best; the economy is starting to turn around ...What exactly is our message going to be?'" Smith said Tuesday morning on Canada AM.
The hawks, meanwhile, are telling their leader they can no longer prop up the Tory government, saying: "'This is as good a time as any, and we don't know what the situation will be down the road'."
The Liberals also find themselves in a far better financial situation than at the start of the previous election.
"They raised more money than the Tories in the second quarter. They've got ads ready to go," Smith added. "Ignatieff seems to be leading them to pull down the government in late September."
On Monday, the Conservatives said talk of a fall election could risk derailing the nation's fledgling economic recovery.
On the cusp of Parliament's resumption, Transport Minister John Baird said economic stimulus spending could be threatened if Canadians are forced back to the polls by a non-confidence vote in the coming weeks.
Ignatieff called Baird's statement a "load of nonsense."
The big question mark is how Ignatieff intends to sell Canadians on yet another election, especially in light of new data showing signs of life in the economy for the first time in almost a year.
Smith said according to the hawks, the main issue that triggers a non-confidence vote may be failure by the government to provide the changes the Liberals want on unemployment insurance -- an issue that Harper and Ignatieff locked horns over when Parliament ended in June.
While the leaders held a series of meetings on the issue over the summer, Ignatieff said the Tories balked at his efforts to build bridges on EI reform.
"Those meetings have turned into a bit of a charade," Ignatieff said.
Another issue could be the Liberals' dissatisfaction with the Conservatives' update on stimulus spending.
"They need one solid message, said Smith, and "we're told we're going to get a little clearer on what that is today when Ignatieff addresses caucus."
"But the basic line is going to be: 'Look, the Conservatives are a bad government, Canadians deserve better and we can give better."
The government seems to be taking the opposition leader's threats seriously.
On Monday, Conservative campaign director and newly-appointed senator Doug Finley sent out a fundraising email, warning that the Liberals are expected to launch a massive advertising campaign after Labour Day.
According to the Canadian Press, Finley wrote: "I have no doubt that the Liberals will go to the wall with this campaign," and sought funds to help the Conservative party "fight back."
"They are desperate to regain power and they will do anything to win," said Finley.
The Liberal caucus retreat ends Wednesday. The fall sitting of Parliament resumes Sept. 14, and Smith said opposition's first chance for a non-confidence vote will be September 30 -- "which could mean an election the first or second week of November."
With files from The Canadian Press