OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday called general elections for October 19, kicking off a campaign for a fourth straight term in power amid a sluggish economy.
Harper, in power since 2006, dissolved parliament after meeting with Governor General David Johnston, the representative of Queen Elizabeth II, Canada’s nominal head of state in this Commonwealth country.
Voters will be choosing all 338 members of the House of Commons, 30 more than in the last election because of redistricting.
Harper said the election was about “leadership on the big issues that affect us all, our economy and our nation’s security.”
“It’s an election about who will protect our economy in instability and ensure Canada’s future prosperity. The national election is not a popularity contest,” he added.
The economy is expected to be declared officially in recession in September when second quarter GDP figures are released. But Central Bank governor Stephen Poloz already said this month the economy was in fact in recession.
Harper is taking on Thomas Mulcair of the left-leaning New Democrats and Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal party and son of Pierre Trudeau, who ruled as prime minister for 15 years.
Trudeau will try to lead the Liberals back into power for the first time since losing to the Conservatives in 2006.
In the latest polls, Harper’s Conservatives and the New Democrats are neck-and-neck at about 32 percent of voter intention, with the Liberals at 25 percent.