The Prime Minister is playing down differences between his government and the opposition Liberals on Employment Insurance and has repeated his desire for a fall session focused on the economy rather than an election.
Some of Stephen Harper's MPs spoke openly this week of campaigning for a majority government. Liberals are also raising election talk, saying their joint summer meetings with the government to craft EI reforms are not going well. Liberals have accused officials of overestimating the cost of their proposals to make the insurance program accessible to more people.
"The issue of employment insurance is to find better ways to help the unemployed. That's what we're looking for," said Mr. Harper Friday at an energy announcement with Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie. "Clearly, we are very happy that we are having discussions with the Liberal party, but in the end, the government of Canada must act in the greater interest of Canadians. Clearly, we have proposed our perspective. The opposition, maybe their perspective is a bit different, but we're still talking about these things. I'm confident that this government will make proposals this fall that will be in the interests of the Canadian economy."
Asked about whether his party is campaigning for a majority, Mr. Harper insisted his focus is on governing this fall.
He said the recession continues to affect Canada even though this country is doing better than most.
"I think the emphasis of all parties in the House of Commons should be working to ensure that we're working on the economy in the fall and that that's our focus," he said. "And I will say over and over again, I have not met a single Canadian, a single real person out there, whose telling me that they think we should be fighting an election right now."