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Election in July? That may be the only option

Globe and Mail Update

Ottawa — If the opposition wants an election, it will have to be in the dead heat of July.

That much can be deduced from the latest hints emerging from the Conservative government, which has the power to schedule the three remaining opposition days that could be used to defeat the Harper government.

The government must schedule the days before House breaks for summer, a recess that is currently scheduled for June 23. The government usually schedules one opposition day per week, but so far none have been scheduled for the remainder of this month.

A spokesman for government House leader Jay Hill hinted Wednesday that there also may not be any the week after that.

“It's in our interest to spend as much time as possible on government bills for the next few weeks,” Zachary Healy said in an e-mail. “We need to send as many bills as possible to the Senate as quickly as we can so we can pass as much legislation as possible before the summer recess. In between debate of our bills, we will schedule all three opposition days.”

Mr. Healy noted that the government has yet to inform the opposition when their days will be. Officials with the Liberals and the NDP say they fully expect the government will schedule them as late as possible.

Recent comments from Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have suggested the opposition and the government are on a collision course over employment insurance. Mr. Ignatieff has suggested he'd be willing to make an attempt to defeat the government if it does not make the social program more generous.

Mr. Harper has derided the Liberal proposal as a costly pledge that would force government to raise payroll taxes.

All three opposition parties would have to vote together on a confidence vote to have the numbers to defeat the government.

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