Conservatives, Liberals attack NDP economics

Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:37pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his Conservatives under siege from the New Democrats before the May 2 election, warned on Thursday his left-leaning rivals would wreak havoc with a fragile economy.

But Harper, clearly sensing that the chances of turning his minority government into a majority might be fading, also opened the door to compromise with the opposition in order to stay in power.

The NDP has never held power nationally, and Harper said that while a government the NDP might lead would not last long, it would "do a lot of destruction."

"The alternative the opposition offers, symbolized most dramatically by the NDP, are enormous increases in government expenses, the raising of taxes, the raising of prices," he said, adding it would radically affect jobs and the economy.

The NDP's sudden rise has shaken up a sleepy election campaign that for long promised to yield a government headed by the Conservatives or the Liberals, the only parties that have ever governed Canada.

The NDP, now second in the polls behind the Conservatives, are proposing significantly higher taxes and spending than the other two parties, and the possibility of them coming to power has ruffled some financial feathers.

Unusually for western economies, all three major parties pledge to balance the budget in several years.

Polls indicate the Conservatives would win the most seats. But if they win fewer than half, as in 2006 and 2008, they would need support of another party to stay in power.   Continued...

<p>Canada's NDP leader Jack Layton pauses as he speaks at a campaign rally in Winnipeg, Manitoba April 27, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Greenslade</p>