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Harper Says NDP in Government Would Mean ‘Destruction’ for Canada Economy

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seeking to stem a surge in the polls by the pro-labor New Democrats, said a minority government led by NDP leader Jack Layton would mean “a lot of destruction” for the economy.

After attacking his main rival Liberals during much of the five-week campaign for the May 2 election, Harper has turned his focus this week on the NDP, which polls show has surpassed the Liberals as the second-most popular party.

Harper, speaking in Niagara Falls, Ontario, said the NDP’s platform underscores the need for Canadians to elect a Conservative majority government, which he says is needed to secure the country’s recovery.

“Canadians need to understand how dramatically different the choices really are,” Harper told reporters. “One with a Conservative majority, the other a minority parliament with a ramshackle coalition led by the NDP that will not last but will do a lot of destruction.”

In the 2008 election, the Conservatives won 143 seats with 38 percent of the vote, the Liberals took 77 seats with 26 percent of the vote and the NDP won 37 seats with 18 percent. Harper has been governing since 2006 without a majority.

The NDP had 30 percent support among decided voters, according to the CTV/Globe/Nanos tracking poll published this morning. The Conservatives had 37 percent support, while the Liberals had 22 percent. The poll surveyed 1,200 eligible voters and has a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

Focus on Platform

The growing NDP support has led opponents to focus on its C$68.9 billion ($72.5 billion) platform, which says its promises will be financed by raising corporate taxes, cracking down on tax havens, ending subsidies for fossil-fuel exploration that benefit companies like Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. (SU), and revenue from a cap-and-trade system for carbon.

Harper said the NDP’s cap-and-trade proposal, projected to raise about C$20 billion over four years, will increase the cost of gasoline by at least 10 Canadian cents per liter.

“The NDP’s positions on these things are the most starkly clear,” Harper said. “Higher taxes, higher spending, higher prices, protectionism.”

Layton dismissed Harper’s attacks. “We have got some attacks of our own,” Layton said at a rally today in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. “We want to attack poverty. We want to attack climate change. We want to attack unemployment.”

The NDP platform compares with the ruling Conservatives’ C$6.6 billion of promises over five years.

Canada’s dollar has fallen against all but three of 17 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg News since April 20 as polls showed NDP support growing.

A pickup in support for the NDP can help the Conservatives in Ontario, where Harper’s main rival is the Liberal Party in a majority of districts. It can hurt the Conservatives in other regions like British Columbia where the NDP is the main rival.

To contact the reporters on this story: Theophilos Argitis in Niagara Falls, Ontario, at targitis@bloomberg.net; Greg Quinn in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, at gquinn1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net.

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