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TORONTO (Reuters) - Citing his ability to get "the big things right," the Globe and Mail's editorial board on Friday unenthusiastically endorsed Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Canada's Oct 14 general election.
The nation's second-largest newspaper began the endorsement with a list of what it says are Harper's two most worrisome personality traits: that he is a right-wing ideologue and that he is possessed of a mean-spirited and controlling nature.
"But despite these personality traits, Mr. Harper has governed moderately and competently for nearly three years," the newspaper said. "He has not taken the country in dangerous new directions or significantly eroded the capacity of the government to act."
"On balance, Mr. Harper remains the best man for the job in the tough times now upon us," the newspaper said.
Harper's government, struggling to protect Canada's economy from a deepening global financial crisis that has hindered businesses and consumers from getting loans, has launched a plan to boost banks' ability to extend credit by buying up C$25 billion in high-quality mortgage assets. It has also welcomed a deep interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada this week.
The Globe and Mail said Harper's main rival, Liberal leader Stephane Dion, is a "man of great integrity and tremendous courage" but is not up to the task of leading the country.
"If you want to meet the most inflexible head of a major political party, Mr. Dion takes it in a cakewalk," the newspaper said.
Dion is proposing a carbon tax to cut greenhouse gas emissions -- the cost of which he says would be offset by income tax cuts. Harper says the tax will trigger a recession.
With just four days before the election, the ruling Conservatives have maintained a lead in the polls.
Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Frank McGurty