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Harper faces strong NDP challenge in vote

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Harper faces strong NDP challenge in vote

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Voting is coming to an end in the most unpredictable Canadian general election in years.

Just weeks ago outgoing prime minister Stephen Harper had a healthy lead and looked fair set for another five years.

But an effective campaign has catapulted the left of centre New Democrats into contention. Led by Jack Layton they have displaced the Liberals as the second biggest party and are snapping at the Conservatives heels.

In the process they appear to have taken the Quebec separatist vote, potentially a sea change in Canadian politics, and are stealing support from Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals who are launguishing with about a quarter of the vote in the final opinion polls.

While splitting the traditonal Liberal opposition bloc may hand the Conservatives a win, they may be in such a minority that a NDP led centre-left coalition with the Liberals may be on the cards.