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Harper uses Bloc stand on parks to hammer opposition 'coalition'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper used a transit-funding announcement in Southwestern Ontario on Thursday to remind Canadians about the perils of voting for a "coalition" of opposition parties who are threatening to take down his minority Conservative government.

After saying the federal government will pony up as much as $265-million to pay for new rapid transit in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area, Mr. Harper took questions from reporters.

One of them wanted to know about accusations from the Bloc Quebecois that the government of Canada was distributing federalist propaganda when it sent letters to schoolchildren promoting visits to parks.

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The Bloc is in the habit of seeing every action taken by the government of Canada as a federalist plot, Mr. Harper replied.

"When we get to the day that the opposition coalition forces an election, which I hope, as I say, is not in the immediate future because I think we should be focusing on the economy, I think the Liberals and NDP are going to have a lot of explaining to do," he said, including "why they want to be a coalition partner with a party that thinks things like the national parks are a federalist plot. I think it's just bizarre."

In most of his recent question-and-answer sessions with the press, Mr. Harper has repeatedly raised the spectre of an opposition coalition - something that Tom Flanagan, a political scientist at the University of Calgary, says is framing the ballot question for the next election.

"You've got to persuade people that you can't take the Liberals at face value." Mr. Flanagan said in a recent interview with Postmedia News. "There's a big payoff there. Of course, if you're going to do that, it's smart to start early."

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