In tied race, Canada PM Harper carries momentum into debate
By Julie Gordon
CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Battered but unbowed, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has momentum and the economy on his side as he heads into the second leaders' debate later on Thursday, hoping a home-turf advantage will help him break away from centre-left opponents.
The debate offers a pivot point for Harper, 56, as he recovers his footing following a string of scandals and bad news in the first half of the campaign for the Oct. 19 federal election.
Harper trumpeted an early federal budget surplus this week, saying his Conservative party was best poised to manage the economy.
And his offer of limited help to Syrian refugees has found support among the party's base, even as his opponents say Canada should be more generous.
Monday's surplus news brightened the mood on the campaign trail, with staffers joking that opponents would be scrambling to come up with any viable economic argument to throw at Harper.
Polls show a tight three-way race ahead of vote, with a minority government likely.
The debate, which focuses on the economy, will take place in Calgary, Harper's adopted hometown, where he maintains a solid base albeit a disgruntled one in the wake of a prolonged slump in oil prices.
Harper, seeking a rare fourth term and battling voter desire for change, will face New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair, 60 and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, 43. Green Party leader Elizabeth May, left off the roster, said she would "join" in a post on Twitter. Continued...