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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's main opposition party said on Friday that if it won an Oct. 19 election, it would not feel bound by the terms of a major Pacific trade deal the ruling Conservatives are negotiating in the United States.
The New Democrats, currently trailing third in the polls, said in a letter to Trade Minister Ed Fast that the Conservatives had no public mandate to take part in talks on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
"I wish to advise you that an NDP government will not consider itself bound to any agreement signed by your Conservative government during this federal election," NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said in the letter.
Critics fear the proposed trade agreement could damage Canada's auto industry, which has powerful unions that have historically tended to support the New Democrats.
"Concessions given by your Conservative government could devastate families and the communities that rely on this sector. An NDP government will not accept that," said Mulcair, who also cited the potential threat to the dairy sector.
A spokesman for Fast said Mulcair knew full well that any deal would be fully debated and voted on in the next Parliament.
Polls show the center-left New Democrats are sinking steadily in popularity and trail both the Conservatives and the opposition Liberals.
If the New Democrats recover significantly and the other parties stumble, Mulcair could in theory be in a position to form a government.
Depending on the election result another option would be for the New Democrats to act as a junior partner in a government with the Liberals, who have yet to say what they would do with TPP if they took power.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Matthew Lewis