Canada to hold election overshadowed by meltdown

Mon Oct 13, 2008 3:02pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives look set to retain power on Tuesday in the first national election held in a major industrialized nation since the market meltdown this month.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper triggered the campaign five weeks ago on the grounds that his minority government could no longer work with opposition parties who hold the balance of power in Parliament.

Then shares began to plummet and Harper retooled his campaign in a bid to persuade Canadians that only he could manage the country in such troubled times.

"(We have) a plan that in the midst of this world financial crisis has kept our economy creating jobs, kept our budgets balanced and kept your bank accounts safe and secure," he told a rally in Cornwall, Prince Edward Island on Monday.

Harper has dismissed opposition calls for major government spending programs.

The election is the third in four years and -- according to virtually every poll over the last month -- will produce Canada's third successive minority government.

Harper, who defeated a minority Liberal administration in January 2006, foresees another election relatively soon.

"Obviously the Parliament won't last four years," he told CTV television on Sunday.   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper reacts to applause during a campaign rally in Cornwall, Prince Edward Island October 13, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election October 14. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>