Canadian politicians in heated election debate

08:14, April 14, 2011      

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Canada's Conservative leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe (L to R) arrive prior to the leaders debate at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on April 12, 2011. (Xinhua/Christopher Pike)

Leaders of Canada's four major parties attacked each other in a live television debate Tuesday, a climax of their campaigns for the federal election on May 2.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, asked Canadians to give him a majority government, but spent much of his time fending off attacks by his three political rivals.

During the two-hour debate in downtown Ottawa, Michael Ignatieff of the Liberal Party, Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party and Gilles Duceppe of Bloc Quebecois accused the Harper administration of not telling the truth on issues such as the F-35 fighter jets procurement, corporate tax cuts, and justice reform in contempt of Parliament.

The opposition leaders also criticized the Conservatives' policies on immigration, crime, health care, education, as well as climate change.

However, Harper denied any wrongdoing, insisting his government had been a competent steward for Canada, and accused his opponents of forcing an unneeded election.

"Canada's got the strongest recovery...suddenly it's plunged into a fourth election in seven years, and Canadians don't know why," Harper said.

He also defended his government's foreign aid record, saying there had been no cuts to Third World countries.

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