Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Federal Leaders Return to Campaign Trail as Markets and Dollar Totter

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Federal Leaders Return to Campaign Trail as Markets and Dollar Totter

Article excerpt

Market turmoil shakes up campaign trail

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OTTAWA - A precipitous drop in North American stock markets sparked fresh debate on the federal campaign trail Monday about which leader would be the best choice to manage Canada's finances.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 768.5 points shortly after markets opened, before rallying to close down 420.93 points, a 3.12 per cent decline over Friday's close. The dollar, meanwhile, closed down about half a cent.

For Stephen Harper, the plunging economy -- fallout from China's worst market performance in eight years -- provided a welcome diversion from the relentless revelations of the Mike Duffy trial that have kept the Conservative campaign off balance for close to two weeks.

The prime minister's office released a short statement Monday, saying that he had spoken on the phone in the morning with Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada.

"Prime minister Harper and governor Poloz discussed the recent decline in global stock markets and commodity prices, slowing growth in China and emerging markets and the potential impacts on Canada's economy," said the statement, which offered no other details.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau blamed Harper for the economic mess and said they could do a better job of running the country's finances.

Harper repeated that his government is the best bet in uncertain economic times.

That's a message that the Conservative leader has been struggling to deliver as he fends off questions about how much his current chief of staff, Ray Novak, knew about Nigel Wright's controversial $90,000 payout to Duffy in February 2013.

Harper said Monday the unstable global economy is the most important issue facing Canadians and urged them to stay with his party.

"Given the challenges around us, we need to stick with a long-term plan that has been working and will work," Harper said in Drummondville, Que.

He said his political opponents offer proposals that would damage the economy.

"What the other guys are proposing, at a time of enormous market instability, is that they would embark on large-scale, permanent spending increases," he said. …

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