Canada's Conservatives lead amid pre-election push

Sun Oct 12, 2008 3:38pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - With Prime Minister Stephen Harper looking set to win Tuesday's Canadian election, opposition parties made last-ditch appeals on Sunday to keep him from winning a majority government.

A poll on Sunday showed Harper's Conservatives maintained a comfortable lead over the second-place Liberals, but lacked sufficient support to take enough parliamentary seats to rise above their current status of needing opposition support to pass legislation.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion lashed out at New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, warning that dividing support between the country's left-leaning parties would allow Harper to take power as he had in the last election.

"In 2006 Jack Layton told Canadians 'lend me your vote'... well to Jack Layton we should say we want our votes back with interest," Dion told a rally in Ontario, where he also accused Harper of running a campaign of lies.

Layton, whose NDP has polled in third place, was also in Ontario telling voters Dion had been too weak as leader of the largest opposition party to Harper and did not deserve their support.

Harper is the first leader of a G7 country to face election since the current global economic crisis erupted, and told a Quebec City rally Canada's economy remains healthier than those of other countries.

"We have a better economic situation than the United States because for two and a half years we have made better choices," Harper said in a rare jab at Canada's largest trading partner.

'MORE MOVEMENT YET'   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign stop in Saint-Tite, Quebec October 12, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election on October 14. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>