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Canada PM Triggers Election            08/02 10:24

   TORONTO (AP) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper triggered an election 
campaign Sunday and set the vote for Oct. 19, when Harper and his Conservative 
party hope to earn a fourth term after almost a decade in power.

   Analysts say the election is a toss-up and Harper faces an uphill battle to 
form another majority government. If Harper wins he would become the first 
prime minister since Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1908 to win four consecutive 
elections.

   The prime minister dissolved Parliament Sunday in a visit to the 
governor-general, who serves as Canada's formal but mostly ceremonial head of 
state.

   Harper has managed to nudge a traditionally center-left country to the right 
since coming to power in 2006. He has gradually lowered sales and corporate 
taxes, avoided climate change legislation, supported the oil industry against 
the environmental lobby, increased military spending and backed Israel's 
right-wing government.

   Harper, 56, said the election is about keeping the economy strong and 
Canadians safe from terrorist attacks. He said now is not the time for 
inexperience and "political correctness," referring to the opposition leftist 
New Democrat party.

   Analysts say a minority government in Parliament is likely no matter what 
party wins the most seats in Parliament. That would mean the winning party 
would have a shaky hold on power and need to rely on another party to pass new 
legislation.

   A coalition government between the leftist New Democrats and Liberals is 
also possible.

   Analysts say the opposition New Democrats, led by Tom Mulcair, 60, have a 
chance to gain power after winning an election in Alberta, Canada's most 
conservative province, a few months ago.

   Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, is 
also in the running to be the next prime minister. But he has trailed in recent 
polls after Conservatives have run several attack ads saying the 43-year-old 
not ready for the job.


(KA)


 
 
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