NDP urges all-party meeting on crisis

Mon Sep 29, 2008 4:31pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's major political parties should set aside election partisanship to hold an emergency meeting on the global financial crisis, the leader of the left-leaning New Democratic Party said on Monday.

NDP leader Jack Layton urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to convene an all-party meeting this week in Ottawa, where the candidates in the October 14 election are scheduled to participate in televised debates Wednesday and Thursday.

"We are in an election campaign, and we will continue to compete for who is going to be the next prime minister," Layton said in a statement.

"But perhaps this situation is beginning to resemble one where Canada's political parties need to consider what needs to be done, by Parliament as a whole, to ensure Canadian families are safe and secure," he said.

Layton's appeal came moments after the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposed US$700 billion bailout package for distressed financial institutions.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index plummeted 6 percent on Monday and at one point during the session was down 7.9 percent, its biggest intraday drop since October 2000.

Earlier on Monday, Harper reiterated that Canadian financial institutions are not suffering the same instability as in the United States and Europe.

Layton proposed the political leaders hear the views of Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Deputy Minister of Finance Rob Wright, discuss the steps Ottawa can take to prevent the U.S. crisis from spreading to Canada and possibly issue a joint statement.

(Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Frank McGurty)