Canada's Conservatives win with bolstered minority

Wed Oct 15, 2008 2:55am EDT
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper won re-election with a significantly stronger minority government and called on Wednesday for unity in staring down global financial turbulence.

The Conservative leader came just 10 or 12 votes short of a majority in the 308-seat Parliament but both he and Liberal opposition leader Stephane Dion reached out in recognizing the seriousness of the economic challenges facing Canada.

"This is a time for us all to put aside political differences and partisan considerations and to work cooperatively for the benefit of Canada," Harper, 49, told a victory celebration in his home town of Calgary.

"We stretch out a hand to all members of all parties asking them to join together to protect our economy and to weather this world financial crisis."

Harper had run on providing a steady economic hand and his government was widely expected to offer public money soon to facilitate interbank borrowing to help Canadian banks.

He will still have to rely on the support of at least one of the three opposition parties to govern, but the Liberals said that they would cooperate at least for now.

"We stand ready to work with all political parties to make this Parliament work, because we have serious work to do," Dion said as he conceded defeat.

Underneath the surface the Liberals, who had drawn scorn from all sides over the past year for keeping the Conservatives in power because of their poor poll standings, suggested their patience might not be unlimited this time.   Continued...

<p>Conservative Party leader and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves to supporters at his election night headquarters in Calgary, Alberta October 14, 2008. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>