Harper to call Oct 14 election

Fri Sep 5, 2008 4:56pm EDT
 
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper will call a general election on Sunday, with the vote on October 14, to focus on the weak economy and an opposition plan to impose a carbon tax, his office said on Friday.

The election will mark Canada's third national vote in four years and comes at a time when the economy is struggling to cope with the slowdown in the United States, the country's largest trading partner.

Harper's Conservatives won a minority government in January 2006 and polls indicate a vote now would result in another Conservative minority.

"We think it's about who do you want to have leading the country in uncertain economic times," said a top Harper aide.

Harper was supposed to wait until October 2009, the date set for the next election under a law brought in by the Conservatives.

But he says he wants an election now because Parliament has become dysfunctional, a move that has prompted charges he is making excuses to trigger a vote to suit his own ends.

"Stephen Harper wants to rush into an election before Canadians can realize how little he has done to prepare our country to deal with the slowdown of the economy," said Stephane Dion, leader of the opposition Liberal Party.

Economic growth so far this year has been anemic and the crucial manufacturing sector -- focused largely Eastern Canada where Harper needs to pick up votes -- is struggling.   Continued...

 
<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers a speech to Conservative Party supporters at the Croatian Parish Park in Mississauga, August 18, 2008. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese</p>