Canada's Conservatives woo Liberals as vote looms

Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:44pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

RICHMOND HILL, Ontario (Reuters) - Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a direct pitch on Saturday to centrist Liberal voters whose party has been swamped by a late campaign surge of the New Democratic Party.

Harper's plan to win a majority of seats in Parliament in Monday's elections counts on the Liberals and NDP splitting the vote on the left of Canada's political spectrum and then winning over centrist Liberals worried that the left-leaning New Democrats will gain too much power.

Conservatives currently have a minority government.

"A vote for the Liberals is a vote for an NDP government," Harper told a small rally near Toronto.

It was the first time he has made such a direct pitch since the Liberals began a slide in opinion polls midway in the five-week campaign.

Polls show the Conservatives with a comfortable lead going into Monday's elections, but short of what they would likely need to win a majority that does not need some opposition party support to stay in power. New Democrats are in second and Liberals in third place in the polls.

Harper said a re-elected Conservative government would unveil its budget later this spring, but was not more specific about the date. If the Conservatives do not win a majority government, the budget could trigger another election if opposition parties do not support it.

FORCED TO RETOOL   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper greets supporters during a campaign rally in Brampton, Ontario April 29, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>