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Ignatieff to meet British coalition partner Nick Clegg

Michael Ignatieff will travel to London after the G20 summit to visit Nick Clegg, Britain's Liberal Democratic Leader and junior coalition partner.

Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press

In advance of his cross-Canada summer bus tour, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is hopping over to London this week for a tête-à-tête with Nick Clegg, Britain's Liberal Democratic Leader and junior coalition partner.

The main reason for Mr. Ignatieff's trip is to attend his daughter Sophie's graduation at the University of Edinburgh, but the two politicians will have plenty to talk about when they meet.

Mr. Clegg's decision to enter a formal coalition with David Cameron's Conservative minority triggered heightened coalition talk in Canada, with a focus on whether the Liberals and NDP might form a coalition after the next election.

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A senior Liberal confirmed a private meeting is scheduled, but insisted there are no plans to discuss strategy around coalitions.

"I am not saying that the topic won't be brought up, on an anecdotal level," the Liberal source said.

The two party leaders have known each other for some time through a group called Liberal International, a 63-year-old organization that bills itself as the "world federation of liberal and progressive democratic political parties."

The Liberal official said Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Clegg are likely to discuss Canada's experience in fighting deficits, given that the current British coalition members have said they are drawing inspiration from Canada's cost-cutting efforts in the mid-1990s led by then-finance-minister Paul Martin.

In addition to leading similar parties, the two have distant family connections dating back to Czarist Russia. Both families fled the country after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Mr. Clegg's paternal grandmother, Kira von Engelhardt, is the first cousin of Alla Vladimirovna Ionova, who married Count Leonid Alexeivitch Ignatiev - first cousin to Mr. Ignatieff's father.

Mr. Ignatieff has been criticized in the past by Conservatives for spending summer vacations in Europe. Starting July 13, Mr. Ignatieff will tour Canada by bus, with a focus on smaller communities.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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