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Canada general election voting starts
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20:27, October 14, 2008

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Canadians are voting Tuesday in their 40th general election, amid economic uncertainty that has dominated the last stage of the five-week campaign.

About 23 million eligible voters will choose 308 members of the House of Commons, from candidates of five federal parties.

Polls released Monday indicated the Conservatives were poised to win another minority government, short of its long-sought goal of a majority one.

All polls also suggested that Stephen Harper's Conservatives would fall short of the 36.5 percent they won in the January 2006election.

A final poll by Nanos Research gave them 34.2 percent public support, the Liberals 26.7 percent and the left-leaning New Democrats 21.4 percent.

An Ekos survey put the Conservatives at 34 percent with the Liberals at 26 percent while Harris-Decima had Harper in the lead by 34 percent to 25.

The Liberals, who got 30.22 percent in the 2006 election, were also expected to lose seats compared with the previous poll.

"If I get two mandates in a row, two minority mandates, I will be very thankful," Harper told Canadian Television Monday.

When the election campaign began a month ago, the leading issues were the environment, healthcare, and the quality of the country's leadership. However, when the stock market crashed, everybody's attention shifted to the economy.

Harper, himself an economist, has tried to assure voters that only his party had the ability to manage the economy at a time of difficulty. He has promised to keep taxes and inflation low while maintaining balanced budgets.

The Liberals have been trying to sell their "Green Shift" plan, an environmental plan that will offset greenhouse emissions taxes with income tax. But tumbling markets and fears of a recession have dampened any public appetite for such a plan.

Source: Xinhua

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