The three-way race for the seat of  Prime Minister of Canada


The main federal party leaders, from left, Gilles Duceppe, Stephen Harper, Elizabeth May, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. (Reuters/Canadian Press)

Elections for the head of Canada’s federal government are set to take place October 19, less than three weeks from now. The latest national poll shows the Conservatives at 31%, the Liberals at 30% and the New Democratic Party (NDP) at 29%. Based on those numbers, the Conservatives are on pace for a minority government, reports Bloomberg. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have both said they will not prop up Conservative Leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, if he wins reelection, adding some uncertainty to Canada’s political environment even following the elections.

This year has marked some changes in the political winds in Canada, with the Liberals losing two long-time bastions in recent elections to Conservatives in Winnipeg South-Centre and St Boniface-St Vital. The Liberals may be able to pick up other seats in Winnipeg despite the loss though, with NDP polling poorly in Manitoba after raising taxes, reports CBC.

Historically-Conservative held Calgary is also showing some signs of changing feelings. Harper’s Conservative government could lose two seats in Canada’s energy capital, echoing the results of provincial elections in May, which saw an end to the Conservatives 44 year rule to NDP Leader Rachel Notley.

“Calgary used to be the afterthought of the campaign. No one campaigned,” said Mount Royal University professor Duane Bratt. “Now there are seats in play.”

Energy played a significant role in the debates held last Thursday, with Harper defending his record on environmental issues. Harper accused his rivals of taking positions “contrary” to those of a debate the previous week in Calgary. The Conservative leader argued in favor of TransCanada’s (ticker: TRP) Keystone XL project after Mulcair criticized it on the basis it would export unrefined oil and therefore cost Canadians jobs.

“Exports create jobs on both sides, in both countries. That’s why we encourage exports. This is the NDP’s protectionist ideology,” Harper replied said.

Trudeau criticized Harper’s record on getting pipelines built. Canada’s four major pipeline projects are all stalled or facing delays, with environmental criticism underpinning opposition to the projects. “Mr. Harper has demonstrated that he doesn’t understand that, in the 21st century, the environment and the economy go together hand in hand,” Trudeau said.

Other topics covered in the French-language debate last week included international trade, combating Islamic State militants, arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the federal budget, and others.

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