Canada PM calls Oct 19 election, focus on sluggish economy

Sun Aug 2, 2015 11:03am EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (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 that 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 Harper at the mercy of the two main center-left opposition parties, who 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 that is 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 say Harper has mishandled the economy and should boost government spending, a move he says would spark a crisis like the one ravaging Greece.

Harper announced the election after visiting Governor General David Johnston - the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state - to formally request the dissolution of parliament.

"Our well-being depends on the economy and the wrong leader will do real harm," he said.

"Now is not the time for the kinds of harmful economic schemes that are doing so much damage elsewhere in the world."   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a news conference at Rideau Hall after asking Governor General David Johnston to dissolve Parliament, beginning the longest federal election campaign in recent history, in Ottawa August 2, 2015.    REUTERS/Blair Gable