September 23, 2015 / 4:13 PM / 4 years ago

Wouldn't back Conservative minority government: Leader of Canada NDP

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair makes a point during the Globe and Mail Leaders Debate in Calgary, Alberta September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Sturk

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The leader of Canada’s largest opposition party, neck and neck with rivals ahead of an Oct. 19 election, on Wednesday said he would never support a Conservative minority government and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The comments by Thomas Mulcair of the New Democrats underscored the real possibility that the ruling Conservatives would be quickly defeated if they did not win a majority in the House of Commons.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau made similar anti-Harper comments on Tuesday.

Polls indicate Harper stands little chance of winning a majority government and so to stay in power he would need the support of opposition legislators.

“There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell,” Mulcair told reporters when he was asked whether he could back Harper, who came to power in early 2006.

If Harper did get a minority, the New Democrats would need Liberal support to defeat him and then govern.

Trudeau, who has in the past ruled out the idea of a coalition with Mulcair, on Tuesday appeared to soften his tone by saying he would be prepared to work with other legislators if no party had a majority.

There is, however, considerable distrust between the two leaders and when Mulcair was asked about possible cooperation with the Liberals, he replied testily: “Every time we’ve tried they’ve slammed the door.”

Reporting by Randall Palmer Writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by Christian Plumb and James Dalgleish

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