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Thursday September 12, 2013 MYT 3:51:17 AM
Thursday September 12, 2013 MYT 3:52:02 AM
OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government will outline its policy priorities for the second half of its four-year mandate on October 16, after delaying the start of Parliament by a month.
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper will formally arrange on Friday to have Parliament return on October 16, instead of the scheduled September 16, spokesman Carl Vallee said on Wednesday.
"We're going to be focused on jobs and the economy and growth," Vallee said.
A new parliamentary session traditionally starts with a Speech from the Throne, in which the government outlines its priorities.
The next federal election is scheduled for October 2015.
Harper won his first majority government in the 2011 election, with centre-left vote split between the Liberals and the left-leaning New Democrats, who took second place.
But the Liberals have bounced back under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the son of a former prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, and for most of the summer held a comfortable lead over the other parties in public opinion polls.
However, an Abacus Data poll released on Tuesday night put the Conservatives at 30 percent of committed voters, with the Liberals at 29 percent and the New Democrats at 27 percent. The weighted Internet survey of 1,600 respondents was conducted Aug 30-September 4.
Harper came in for heavy criticism in 2008, when he delayed the Parliament's return from a scheduled break to prevent opposition parties from toppling his newly elected government and installing a coalition. He had Parliament suspended again a year later and critics said he was trying to avoid political heat over the behaviour of Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
But most pundits have said the latest prorogation would be a normal and acceptable procedure, offering Harper a chance to reset his agenda halfway through his term after shuffling his cabinet in July.
(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Janet Guttsman; and Peter Galloway)
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