Poll surge raises election win prospect for Canada's leftist NDP

Tue May 26, 2015 3:59pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A surge in support for Canada's left-leaning New Democrats is forcing strategists and investors to consider a once unthinkable prospect - the party which has never governed federally might now win the October election.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) scored a stunning upset in Alberta's provincial election this month, ending four decades of Progressive Conservative rule. And after two years at a distant third in national polls it is now at or near the top.

The NDP still faces a formidable opponent in the governing Conservatives, who have held power for more than nine years. The party has a large war chest and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an experienced campaigner.

But the fact that people are talking about the possibility of a federal NDP government is a shock, said University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman.

"I would have given 1,000 to one (odds) to anybody – four months ago – that the NDP wouldn't form a government," he said.

The NDP has pledged higher taxes on corporate profits and stock options, tougher climate change action, increased minimum wage in federally regulated industries, and a pull-out from the coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

"This is an ideology that is not corporate-friendly," said David Cockfield, portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management in Toronto, who said he would likely invest more outside of Canada after an NDP win.


New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie