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.

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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