Trudeau momentum has Liberals musing about majority; Tory attacks persist

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper waves at a campaign event at the J.P. Bowman tool and die company in Brantford, Ont., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper waves at a campaign event at the J.P. Bowman tool and die company in Brantford, Ont., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau mused about a majority Wednesday as his Liberals ride high atop polls that suggest they have the all-important momentum heading into next week’s election — a surge that has them squarely in the Conservative crosshairs.

As he has done all week, Stephen Harper spent his entire public appearance attacking Trudeau, warning Canadians that there is “a lot at stake” in Monday’s vote and painting the Liberal plan as a path to higher taxes — and economic ruin.

“The time has come to be extremely clear about the risk Canadians take when they endorse that Liberal approach,” Harper said.

To be sure, the Conservatives weren’t pulling their punches — least of all in a jarring series of ads in Chinese and Punjabi media depicting Trudeau as a champion of pot-smoking children and neighbourhood brothels.

The Conservatives are “playing the politics of fear and spreading falsehoods about the Liberal plan,” the Liberals countered.

Also entering the fray Wednesday was Hazel McCallion, the 94-year-old former mayor of Mississauga, Ont., who appeared in a Liberal ad refuting Harper’s claim that Trudeau intends to eliminate income splitting for seniors.

“It’s like one of those phone scams seniors get because Harper thinks we’re scared,” McCallion says in the ad.

“Stephen, do I look scared to you?”

With polls suggesting the Liberals are in striking distance of forming government, Trudeau was asked Wednesday about the possibility of a Liberal majority.

“Am I asking Canadians to vote for us? Yes. Am I asking them to vote for us across the country? Yes,” he said during a campaign event in Hamilton.

“Am I asking them for a majority government? Yes.”

The college is in the riding of Hamilton Mountain, which the NDP won in 2011 but which currently has no incumbent. It was the first of Trudeau’s four whistle-stops in ridings the Liberals hope to take away from their opponents.

Trudeau was to finish his day with a rally in Ajax, Ont., in what may be one of the most closely watched ridings of this campaign. Former Liberal MP Mark Holland is looking to unseat Conservative Chris Alexander to win his way back to the House of Commons. On Thursday, Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne is set to keep the heat on that riding by making a visit to Holland’s campaign office.

The Conservatives and the NDP, meanwhile, are focusing on shoring up support in ridings they held at dissolution.

Harper took his campaign Wednesday to southwestern Ontario, where the Conservatives are still considered front-runners in some of the more rural ridings despite a concerted push by the NDP and the Liberals.

Later Wednesday, Harper headed to the Toronto area for a rally in Brampton, Ont., a key region for the Conservatives, who swept the area in 2011 and are trying to keep the seats from veering back to the Liberals.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, meanwhile — anxious to elbow his way back into the conversation — insisted that his party is still very much in the mix, and that he remains the best bet to topple Harper.

“I share optimism and confidence with the people I meet across the country,” Mulcair said. “Whatever the polls have shown, I’ve said the same thing. For the first time in Canadian history, we have a three-way race.”

But like Harper, Mulcair, too, spent the day shoring up existing support, first taking his campaign to Nova Scotia, where at least one of his three incumbents in the Halifax area is locked in a tough fight.

Robert Chisholm won Dartmouth-Cole Harbour for the NDP in 2011, but ousted Liberal MP Mike Savage by only about 500 votes.

Chisholm is one of the many New Democrats who rode the Jack Layton tide four years ago to the House of Commons, yet this time around appears to be mostly swimming upstream.

Later in the day, Mulcair was off to campaign in Quebec, a province that gave the New Democrats 59 seats in 2011 and helped elevate his party to Official Opposition status for the first time.

But for Trudeau’s majority swagger, Harper’s Liberal fear-mongering and Mulcair’s brave-face optimism, the quote of the day went to a supporter at Harper’s event in Brantford, Ont.

A man who gave his first name as Richard was asked if he was bothered by support for the prime minister coming from Toronto’s infamous Ford brothers — former mayor Rob Ford became known worldwide for admitting to smoking crack cocaine.

It matters not, he said.

“I don’t care if anyone has sex with a sheep, as long as you work for the people and increase the livelihood of the people you represent,” he said.

© The Canadian Press, 2015

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