TORONTO (Reuters) - With less than a week remaining in Canada’s federal election campaign and the result too close to call, the three main parties jockeyed on Tuesday to lay out their positions in what looks likely to be a minority government.
The center-left Liberals and New Democrats signaled they would not support Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper if he does not win a majority in the Oct. 19 vote, setting the stage for a messy post-election scramble for power.
Harper, seeking a fourth consecutive term, ruled with a minority in his first and second terms because the Liberals and NDP would not cooperate to oust him. But the left-leaning leaders are under pressure to end Harper’s government in Parliament if voters don’t end it next week at the ballot box.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who had said previously his party would not vote to support keeping Harper in power, said he would not even abstain in a vote of confidence if Harper won the most seats but fell short of a majority.
“There is no circumstance in which I could either support him or even stand back and allow him to continue to be prime minister,” Trudeau said at a campaign event in Toronto.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said he would vote “at the first opportunity” to bring down Harper, but didn’t answer directly if he would do so knowing it might trigger a new election.
If Harper won a minority but failed to win the support of enough opposition legislators in a parliamentary vote, his government would fall.
Normally that would trigger a new election or the formation of a new government by one or both of the opposition parties, but it was not clear whether the Liberals and NDP could overcome their mutual antagonism.
Asked if he could sit down with Mulcair or his advisers in a minority Parliament, Trudeau declined to answer affirmatively and instead spoke of their differences.
In the Toronto suburb of Oshawa, Mulcair said Trudeau had slammed the door in his face every time he suggested the two parties work together, most recently in July.
Harper brushed off a question about how he would keep a Conservative minority government alive faced with the determination of the opposition parties to bring him down.
“I am not going to speculate on the results of the election … (or) on potential scenarios,” he told reporters in Toronto.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alan Crosby