Harper "in bubble" over economic woes: Dion

Sat Oct 4, 2008 12:15pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Liberal leader Stephane Dion, trailing in the race to win an October 14 election, on Saturday charged that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in denial about the weakening economy.

Polls show that Harper's Conservatives will retain power and could even turn their Parliamentary minority into a majority. The fallout from the economic turmoil in the United States -- by far Canada's largest trading partner -- has rapidly become the single most important election issue.

Harper insists the economy is sound and says if the Liberals win, their policies will plunge Canada into a recession. Dion said Harper had no plan to deal with the coming fallout.

"Mr. Harper is alone in believing that nothing is happening. He is in his bubble. But we don't need a prime minister in a bubble ... we are facing enormous economic challenges," Dion told a rally in Dieppe, New Brunswick.

He said that since 80 percent of Canadian exports go to the United States, the country inevitably would be hit.

"They are our clients. If we don't prepare ourselves, it would be foolish ... We don't need a government that is saying 'Don't worry, be happy,'" added Dion, who promises to hold a series of emergency meetings on the economy if elected.

An Ipsos-Reid poll for CanWest News on Saturday put the Conservatives at 37 percent, with the Liberals trailing far behind at just 23 percent. The left-leaning New Democrats were at 19 percent.


<p>Liberal leader Stephane Dion pauses during a luncheon speech in Montreal, Quebec, October 3, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election October 14. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>