Canada's fractious opposition leaders face pressure to cooperate
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - In the final week of Canada's election campaign, the leaders of the opposition Liberals and New Democratic Party are locked in a fierce and divisive battle for the same center-left votes.
Behind the scenes, however, insiders from both parties tell Reuters there will be huge pressure on the leaders to forge some sort of a power-sharing agreement after the Oct. 19 vote rather than risk a deadlock and another election.
The willingness of Liberal chief Justin Trudeau and NDP boss Thomas Mulcair to seal a deal could have a direct bearing on whether Canadians have a stable government after polls close on Oct. 19, or face a prolonged period of political instability.
Polls show no party is likely to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons, creating an opportunity for the Liberals and NDP to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ruling Conservatives in a confidence vote.
No one pretends the two opposition leaders are close. Mulcair, 60, refers dismissively to his younger rival and calls him a closet Conservative on major issues.
Trudeau, 43, citing personal differences and what he describes as Mulcair's bad decisions on taxes and investments, says he cannot work with his counterpart.
But senior Liberal party figures will make it clear to Trudeau that he should resolve his issues rather than do anything that might keep Harper in power or give him a chance to win it back, three well-placed Liberals said.
Separately, one high-ranking New Democrat predicted an "irresistible force coming from supporters of both parties" on the two sides to work together if the circumstances were right. Continued...