Canada's contenders rally voters as election enters final stretch

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2015 11:06 AM

By Rod Nickel and Allison Lampert

NEWMARKET/TORONTO, Ontario (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his allies called on voters to turn out to cast their ballot on Sunday as campaigning in the closely fought, prolonged election entered its final stretch.

Fighting for a rare fourth term as prime minister and lagging behind Liberal leader and frontrunner Justin Trudeau in the polls, Harper used a rally in Newmarket-Aurora, just north of Toronto, to again tout his economic track record.

"There is an awful lot at stake," he told a crowd of about 600 supporters. "The choice we make is going to have real consequences for the next four years for families, for seniors, for small business."

A Nanos survey released on Sunday put the Liberals at 37.3 percent, approaching levels needed to win a majority of seats in Parliament, ahead of Monday's vote. They lead the Tories by almost 7 percentage points.

"Elections in some ridings are determined not by who votes, but by who does not vote," Conservative member of parliament Peter Van Loan said at the rally.

The left-leaning New Democratic Party stands at 22.1 percent in the Nanos poll.

An Ekos survey released late Saturday had the Conservatives with a narrow lead of 33.7 over the Liberals, who had 33.3. It pegged the NDP at 21.9.

Speaking to supporters in Toronto, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair remained feisty even though his party has sunk to a distant third in the polls.

Mulcair, who like Liberal Trudeau is wooing centrist voters in addition to his party's left-leaning base, argued the NDP's promise of four years of balanced budgets is socially progressive.

Building up billions of dollars of debt is "a way of the past," he said, trying to allay voter fears that an NDP government would run up huge deficits with its social spending.

Addressing a 1,000 strong crowd in Edmonton in the oil-rich province of Alberta, his rival Trudeau indirectly addressed the lingering hostility toward his father, Pierre Trudeau, for energy policies he enacted when he was prime minister for all but about nine months from 1968 to 1984, which alienated the West.

He said he came to deliver a message that Alberta matters deeply to him. The Liberals have not had a seat in the province since 2006.

"It's a message that I'm proud to deliver here with a big smile as a Liberal, as a Trudeau and as a Quebecer," he said.

(Additional reporting by Randall Palmer in Edmonton; Editing by Josephine Mason and Alan Crosby)