August 25, 2015 / 5:18 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Canada's Liberals roll out economic team in tight election race

(Recasts adding comment from prime minister, analyst)

By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Canada’s Liberals reached back to their glory days on Tuesday to add some gravitas to their election campaign, rolling out a heavyweight economic team in a bid to counter charges that leader Justin Trudeau is too inexperienced to lead the country.

Flanked by advisers including former Finance Ministers Paul Martin and Ralph Goodale, who erased the budget deficit during the 12-year Liberal reign that preceded the current nine-year-rule of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Trudeau derided his opponent for his fiscal policies.

“Stephen Harper’s economic team can fit in one room. All he needs is one chair and a mirror,” Trudeau told a news conference as he introduced a team of advisers that also included John McCallum, a former defense and revenue minister, as well as Martin, who was prime minister between 2003 and 2006.

While Harper seized on global economic instability to urge voters to stick with the ruling right-of-center Conservatives, Trudeau said the prime minister was out of touch with Canadians who have not felt economic security lately.

“Mr. Harper may not feel it from (the prime minister’s residence at) 24 Sussex Drive, but his plan is not working for millions upon millions of Canadians. And when a plan is not working, the real risk is sticking with the status quo,” Trudeau said.

Canada’s resource-dependent economy has been sideswiped by a prolonged slump in world oil prices that has it teetering on the brink of a recession. Harper’s Conservatives - seeking a rare fourth consecutive mandate - have steered the country out of the worst global turmoil, but have posted a string of budget deficits since the 2008 financial crisis.

“This would be the worst time to suddenly fly off on a completely different plan, one based on extraordinarily high levels of spending, to be financed by increased taxes and permanent deficits. And that is what the other guys are planning,” Harper said during a campaign event in Montreal.

Recent polls suggest the Conservatives are neck-and-neck with the left-leaning New Democrats and the centrist Liberals in the race to the Oct. 19 election.

While the move by Trudeau, 43, to elevate Martin, 76, risks highlighting his youth, Queen’s University professor Jonathan Rose said it will likely play well to voters who remember the good economic times of the Liberal mandate.

“It’s really a chance to readjust the frame and remind people that the Liberals are more than Justin Trudeau,” said Rose. “Having these eminences grises in your advisory team really enhances credibility and responds to the claim he doesn’t have experience.” (Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by W Simon and Alan Crosby)

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