UPDATE 3-Canada PM calls Oct 19 election, focus on sluggish economy

Sun Aug 2, 2015 3:17pm EDT
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* Harper requests dissolution of parliament

* Triggers longest Canadian campaign since the 1870s

* Opposition says he mishandled economy (Adds quotes from prime minister, opposition)

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday called a parliamentary election for Oct. 19, kicking off a marathon 11-week campaign likely to focus on a stubbornly sluggish economy and his decade in power.

Polls indicate Harper's right-of-center Conservative Party, which has been in office since 2006, could well lose its majority in the House of Commons.

That would leave him at the mercy of the two main center-left opposition parties, which could unite to bring him down. Minority governments in Canada rarely last more than 18 months.

Harper, 56, says only he can be trusted to manage an economy struggling to cope with the after-effects of a global economic slowdown and a plunge in the price of oil, a major Canadian export. Opposition parties favored "disastrous" policies such as higher spending and more debt, he said.

Five of Canada's last six election campaigns have lasted the minimum length of just over five weeks.   Continued...