Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper battled over whose policies will put more cash into the pocketbooks of everyday Canadians on Tuesday during campaign stops in the Toronto area.
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Harper, speaking to supporters at a film equipment rental company, repeated a weekend stunt in which he added up the purported impact of the Liberal platform on the finances of Canadians. The Conservative leader had a local pizza shop owner slap down dollar bills — with a cash register sound effect to emphasize each point.
Harper staged a similar demonstration during an event on Monday, which prompted an apparent response from the Liberal camp when Trudeau made his first appearance of the day at a Toronto cafe.
Trudeau's speech included a nod to a local family who, he said, are working to pay down debt while saving for their children's education. The Liberal leader said his economic plan, which includes a tax cut for the middle class, would put $5,100 back into the family's pocket.
With some polls pointing toward a Liberal minority government, Trudeau is under pressure to pry voters away from the NDP and the Conservatives. His speech in the NDP-held riding of Beaches-East York touted the progressive policies he has promised if elected on Monday while likening NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's platform to that of Harper.
"It's clear that Tom Mulcair's NDP isn't offering real change," Trudeau told the crowd. "He would rather balance Stephen Harper's budget than invest in our communities and give families the help they need right now."
Asked if he's worried about losing support to Trudeau, Harper insisted voters won't be fooled by the pitch.
"I don't think that conservatives, certainly people who lean to our party, are going to for a minute buy the idea that in an unstable global economy we should go on a spending binge of $150 billion paid for by cutting benefits, by raising taxes and running deficits," he said during a question and answer session with reporters. "Canadians are not going to buy that."
In contrast, the Conservative economic platform offers a "stable economic plan" with modest investments, balanced budgets and tax cuts, Harper said.
His appearance in the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore was significant. It's where former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff infamously lost his seat in the 2011 campaign to Conservative Bernard Trottier.
But with the Liberals reinvigorated under Trudeau, Harper finds himself on the defensive in the riding and will choose another point of differentiation between his party and what's at stake if the Liberals form government.
Mulcair in Oshawa
All three major party leaders were to make stops in Toronto and elsewhere in vote-rich Ontario on Tuesday.
Mulcair started the day in Oshawa, where he warned party faithful about the impact of the recently signed Trans-Pacific Partnership on the manufacturing sector and the broader economy.
The trade deal will cost the city some 1,200 manufacturing jobs, said Mulcair, who criticized what he described as Harper's over-emphasis on the oil and gas sector.
"Stephen Harper put all his eggs in one basket … and then he dropped the basket," he said.
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With the marathon campaign in its final days and the possibility of a minority government on the horizon, the party leaders faced questions about whether they would co-operate with each other in Parliament.
Mulcair said he would work with the other parties but repeated his claim that Trudeau has rebuffed offers of co-operation from the NDP, and that the Liberal leader appears to have a problem with Mulcair in particular.
Mulcair said he would not let personal feelings get in the way.
Asked if he has refused to discuss co-operation with Mulcair, Trudeau appeared to side-step the question, and instead took aim at the NDP leader's tax policies.