Canada Conservatives to set pre-election course in October

Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:51pm EDT
 
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WHITEHORSE, Yukon (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative government will most likely set out its plans for the second half of its term in October, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday as he fights to regain support lost to new Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

Harper told reporters he will seek to delay the return of Parliament from its summer break, likely until October, and start the new session with a speech to Parliament that will set out the government's new agenda. Parliament had been scheduled to resume sitting on September 16

"The No. 1 priority for this government, I do not have to tell you, will continue to be jobs and the economy," Harper said during a tour of the Canadian North.

"While we are overall pleased with progress the Canadian economy has made since the recession, we remain in a very difficult, fragile, and competitive global marketplace, and we think there is much more to be done to secure Canada's economic potential and economic future."

Harper said he would "of course" lead his party into the next election, set for October 2015.

Harper and the Conservatives won a third straight election in May 2011, and for the first time took a majority of seats in the House of Commons, meaning the opposition parties cannot force a new election at will.

However, the Conservatives have been trailing the Liberal Party in the polls since April, when the Liberals chose the telegenic Justin Trudeau, son of former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, to lead the party.

In addition to the trouble from Trudeau, the Conservatives have been taking heat for improper expense claims filed by two high-profile senators appointed by Harper.

(Reporting by Chris Wattie; Writing by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway)

 
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a news conference in Whitehorse, Yukon August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie