Harper predicts minority, but Dion still hopes to win

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is predicting that there will be a minority government, but Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is still pushing for victory.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper speaks at a campaign rally in Quebec City on Sunday. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is predicting that there will be a minority government after Canadians vote Oct. 14.

Speaking in French in Saint-Tite, Que., he said Sunday that "the next government will probably be a minority, Liberal or Conservative." Saint-Tite is about 150 kilometres southwest of Quebec City.

Harper has not been in the habit of forecasting the election outcome, although he said "we believe in all likelihood it will be a minority" when he called the vote on Sept. 7.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is still pushing for victory. "I'm working to win," he said Sunday, even though polls suggest the Liberals are lagging the Tories by nine percentage points.

In his comments Sunday, Harper said whatever the outcome of the election, the Bloc Québécois will be outside of the government. "They will only be spectators," and have no plan to deal with the economic problems.

Harper has been campaigning in Quebec, where the Conservatives had hoped to make big gains at the BQ's expense. But the Bloc support has been growing, polls indicate.

When the election was called, the Conservatives and Liberals both held 11 Quebec seats, and the Bloc 48. The NDP held one, Independents two and two were vacant. 

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have 35 per cent of national support, while the Liberals are at 26 per cent, the Canadian Press/Harris-Decima poll suggested Sunday.

The NDP sit at 18 per cent, the Bloc 10 per cent and the Green party nine, the running four-day poll indicated.

The poll was based on 1,284 interviews done between Wednesday and Saturday. It has a margin of error of 2.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

While focusing on the Bloc, Harper warned that a Liberal minority government would produce deficits and a recession.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion during an interview in Toronto on Sunday. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

Dion has repeatedly denied that. He charged on Sunday that Harper has falsely painted the Liberals' Green Shift plan — which features a tax on carbon fuels and offsetting individual and business tax cuts — as a tax grab.

 "Stephen Harper built his campaign on a lie. He must lose on this lie," Dion said.

Campaigning in Ontario, the Liberal leader urged voters not to split the anti-Conservative vote by supporting NDP or the Green Party candidates.

"The only job a vote for Jack Layton is going to save is a Stephen Harper's job," Dion said, referring to the NDP leader's emphasis on heading off more industrial job losses.