PM cancels Jean’s Beijing trip, fuelling election hype

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean
Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean not to attend the Paralympic Games in Beijing, in a move further suggesting Harper will pull the plug on his current minority government and trigger a federal election.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced late Tuesday that Ontario Lt.-Gov. David Onley will represent Canada in Jean’s place at the Games, which open on Sept. 6. The decision allows Jean, who was to depart on Sept. 5, to remain in Ottawa, in case Harper asks her to dissolve Parliament.

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 government as early as Sept. 2.

“The country must have a government that can function during a time of economic uncertainty,” Harper said Tuesday in Ottawa.

The prime minister said he is not willing to wait for Sept. 9, the day 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.

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