Conservatives buoyed by economic outlook

Federal Conservatives say the prospects of an election seem to be just about as damp as eastern Canada’s soggy summer.

Christian Paradis (right)

OTTAWA — Federal Conservatives say the prospects of an election seem to be just about as damp as eastern Canada’s soggy summer.

Cabinet ministers, MPs and candidates from across the country are attending two days’ of election training at a downtown hotel, overlapping a couple days of caucus meetings.

But many said they aren’t convinced they’ll be out campaigning this fall, given the brighter prospects for the economy.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said last week that Canada is probably already out of a recession and is on a slow road to recovery.

Canada’s books are also looking better when compared with other G8 nations.

At the same time, Harper seems to have weathered the worst of the recession without losing much ground in the polls.

“By and large, I would say things are pretty positive compared to what we might have been expected. We’re not out of it yet, but positive signs for sure,” said Gary Lunn, minister of state for sport.

“There’s an expectation that if we could be into an election, the earliest it could be is a year from now, in the fall of 2010. There’s lots of people saying that.”

British Columbia colleague John Cummins calls it “muted optimism.”

He said there are still concerns in his province that the recession might linger because of difficulties in the forestry sector and other areas.

Still, he said Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s economic record will make it difficult for the opposition to pull the trigger.

“Canadians realize that Mr. Harper did handle these issues very well, and his handling of it is really beyond criticism,” said Cummins.

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