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In Canada’s Election, Voters Lean Left

The Conservatives face a stiff challenge from the New Democrats


Photographer: Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images

At the national level, Canadian politics had always been a rivalry between two parties: the Conservatives and the Liberals. On Oct. 19, when Canadians vote for representatives to their House of Commons in Ottawa, the Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper will once again compete with the Liberals under Justin Trudeau, son of the late Pierre Trudeau, who was prime minister for a total of 15 years, from the late 1960s into the 1980s, and the Canadian leader most familiar to the country south of the border.

But Harper and his Conservatives are under assault by another party, one that people in the U.S. may never have heard of. The New Democratic Party, which has its origins in socialist and social democratic groups in Canada’s west, is promising a center-left agenda that includes subsidized child care and higher taxes on corporations. It’s polling at 33 percent, the Conservatives at 29 percent, and the Liberals at 28 percent, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Canadians are starting to think New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair could be the next prime minister. That would be a first for the NDP, which has run various provinces but never led the nation.