Canada poised to turn right

Discussion in 'Freedom and Liberty' started by ghostrider, Jan 21, 2006.

  1. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    Canada poised to turn right, hours from election

    OTTAWA (AFP) - Canada stood on the threshold of a new political era, on the eve of an election expected to consign Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal Party to the wilderness after 12 years in power.

    Martin, 67, made a feverish last minute bid to reverse the political tide which seemed to be sweeping 47-year-old Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper to power, probably at the head of a minority government.

    But Harper, buoyed by latest opinion polls giving him a lead of between 10 and 12 points, predicted victory -- though dodged reporters on a final weekend campaign swing, apparently keen to avoid last minute gaffs.

    "Friends, it is time to turn the page. It is time to have a new government," Harper told a cheering crowd in Toronto Saturday.

    The Liberals are no longer the political machine which bulldozed to four straight election victories, three under retired ex-premier Jean Chretien, and are now soiled by corruption allegations.

    They have clung onto power since voters, tired of a patronage scandal, snatched away their ruling majority in the last election in June 2004.

    But Martin, who claims Harper is an "extremist" closer to US conservatives who are unpopular here, than mainstream Canadians, launched a shrill attack, as the clock ticked down to polling day.

    "Let me tell you, Stephen Harper, we have our own values in Canada of compassion, generosity and understanding and respect from each other," Martin told cheering supporters in vote-rich Ontario province.

    "We don't have to borrow from the furthest right in the US conservative movement."

    Liberals claim Harper would threaten abortion rights, new same-sex marriage laws and efforts to combat global warming. The Conservative leader may also revisit Canada's refusal to join the US anti-ballistic missile shield.

    Harper, who has softened a once cold, angry image and portrayed himself as a reassuring, smiling prime minister in waiting, however seems to smell power.

    "I think my efforts are paying off and that we actually are going to be able not just to elect a government, but elect a government that looks a lot more like the country than the Liberal Party could possibly elect right now," Harper said in an interview in Saturday's National Post newspaper.

    Latest opinion polls appeared to quash Liberal hopes for a narrowing of the race in the final hours.

    An Ipsos Reid poll for the CanWest newspaper chain put the Conservatives at 38 percent, 12 points up on the Liberals, with 26 percent.

    A Strategic Counsel poll for the Globe and Mail and CTV gave the Conservatives a 10-point lead, while an EKOS survey had the Conservatives at 37 percent and the Liberals at 27 percent.

    Those numbers would leave Harper short of the 155 seats he would need to form a majority government in the 308-member House of Commons.

    "The electorate have collectively decided that ... 'we gave Paul Martin the keys to the car with some limitations in 2004,'" EKOS President Frank Graves told the Star. "'We weren't satisfied with the performance. Now we're going to try the same thing with Stephen Harper.'"

    If he falls short of a majority, Harper would need to find support in parliament from Quebec separatists or the left-wing New Democratic Party.

    American documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who headed north to Canada to flee the rise of US conservatism in his documentary on gun violence, "Bowling for Columbine," bemoaned an apparent right turn in Canadian politics.

    "First, you have the courage to stand against the war in Iraq -- and then you elect a prime minister who's for it. You declare gay people have equal rights -- and then you elect a man who says they don't," Moore moaned in a commentary on his website.

    "That's a joke, right? I know you have a great sense of humor, ... but this is no longer funny."

    Twenty-three million Canadians are eligible to vote in Monday's election, across six time zones.
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