Vive Le Canada

Canadian Parties Begin Candidate Search Ahead of Vote
Date: Friday, April 15 2005
Topic: Canadian Politics

Canadian Parties Begin Candidate Search Ahead of Vote
April 14 (Bloomberg) -- Canada's governing Liberal Party and the main opposition Conservative Party are lifting a freeze on candidate nominations, further evidence a national election may be called within weeks.

The Conservatives have opened up nominations in some ridings and will choose their first candidates in three weeks, party spokesman Geoff Norquay said in an interview yesterday. Steve MacKinnon, national director for the Liberals, said his party is preparing to open nominations, which have been frozen since last June's election.

``If the rumors of an election turn out to be true, we want to be ready,'' MacKinnon said in a telephone interview. ``We certainly are preparing to lift the freeze.''

Plummeting support for the Liberals over an escalating corruption scandal has raised the likelihood that opposition parties will force a vote that would topple Prime Minister Paul Martin's 10-month old government. An advertising executive last week testified he paid C$1.2 million ($970,000) in kickbacks to Liberal fundraisers for government contracts.

Since those allegations were made public, Liberal support has fallen seven percentage points among decided voters to 27 percent, according to an Ipsos-Reid poll published by the Globe and Mail on April 12. Support for the Conservative Party was unchanged at 30 percent, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

The Conservatives, with 99 seats in the 308-member House of Commons, can bring down the government with the support of the separatist Bloc Quebecois party from Quebec. The Liberals are the largest party, with 133 seats.

The Bloc's national executive will meet on Monday to discuss election plans such as candidate selection, party communications director Guylaine Grenier said in an interview.

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