Canadian government to outline new priorities next month

OTTAWA, Sept 11 Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:54pm EDT

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OTTAWA, Sept 11 (Reuters) - The Canadian government will outline its policy priorities for the second half of its four-year mandate on Oct. 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 Oct. 16, instead of the scheduled Sept. 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 center-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 they have overtaken both the other parties in recent opinion polls.

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 behavior 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.

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