Harper calls election for October 14

Sun Sep 7, 2008 10:25am EDT
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday called an election for October 14 in a bid to strengthen his grip on power after 2-1/2 years in charge of a minority Conservative Party government.

Opinion polls in the past week show the Conservatives have such a large lead over the opposition Liberals that they could win a majority of the 308 seats in Parliament.

Harper, who predicted another Conservative minority, said Canada needed steady leadership at a time when the economy is suffering from the U.S. slowdown. He already has made clear he will not propose the kind of high-profile tax cuts his right-leaning government unveiled in the past.

The Liberals say that if elected they will bring in a revenue-neutral carbon tax designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Harper says the plan is a disaster.

"Between now and October 14, Canadians will choose a government to look out for their interests at a time of global economic trouble," Harper told a news conference after calling what will be Canada's third election in four years.

"They will choose between direction or uncertainty, between common sense or risky experiments, between steadiness and recklessness ... we are not promising miracles," he said, vowing to keep the budget in surplus.

He made the announcement after asking governor-general Michaelle Jean to dissolve Parliament.

Opponents, who accuse Harper of harboring an extreme right-wing agenda, say he is breaking an electoral law that fixed the date of the next election for October 2009.   Continued...

<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a news conference at the Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa, August 26, 2008. REUTERS/Christopher Pike</p>