VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada’s political leaders traded election shots on Monday on whether the Conservative government had done enough to protect the country’s economy from the global financial crisis.
Liberal leader Stephane Dion and New Democratic Party chief Jack Layton accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of ignoring the impact of the credit crisis in the United States, Canada’s largest trading partner.
“He hasn’t done anything for the last two years, and he’s not about to start now,” Layton told a campaign rally in Vancouver, ahead of next week’s general election.
Harper said Canada was not immune to the global economic slowdown but it was not in recession, and the government had taken steps to protect the country’s banking system and economy in advance of the crisis.
“We’ve developed a plan that is suited for a period of slow economic growth and economic uncertainty,” he told Business News Network television.
Opinion polls on Monday showed the Conservatives still leading, but in a tighter race than earlier in the campaign. Canadians go to polls October 14, and advance voting is already under way.
A Harris-Decima/Canadian Press rolling poll put the Conservatives at 32 percent, down 2 points from the day before and down 5 points in the space of three days -- and 4 points less than what they got in the 2006 election.
The poll showed 25 percent support for the Liberals and 21 percent for the left-of-center New Democratic Party.
A Nanos survey has the Conservatives at 34 percent, the Liberals at 29 percent -- just one point less than their result in the 2006 election -- and the NDP at 20 percent.
The Conservative’s lead was a percentage point more than Nanos’s survey released on Sunday but just half what it had shown a week earlier.
An Ekos poll released on Sunday night had the Conservatives at 35 percent, the Liberals at 25 and the NDP at 19.
Dion and Layton were both in British Columbia on Monday, where a weaker than expected showing by the Conservatives helped keep them from winning a majority in the January 2006 election.
Both parties are warning again this election that the Conservatives will benefit if the opposition vote in fractured.
“The only job that will be saved by voting for Mr. Layton is Stephen Harper‘s,” Dion said in a statement.
Layton told NDP backers in Vancouver they needed to woo the support of friends who were thinking of voting for the Liberals or the Green Party -- which Layton rare mentions in his public addresses.
Reporting Allan Dowd, David Ljunggren, editing by Rob Wilson