Harper campaign chooses pumpkins over press on Thanksgiving

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper left Ottawa early in the morning with his wife and two children and headed to the Greater Toronto Area. However, Harper spent hours without holding any public events.

Conservative leader tours Greater Toronto Area with few public events

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper holds up a pumpkin at a pumpkin patch in Richmond Hill, Ont., on Oct. 11, 2015. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Normally a campaign driven by military-like discipline, the Conservatives seemed hobbled by confusion on Sunday.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper left Ottawa early in the morning with his wife and two children and headed to the Greater Toronto Area. However, the Conservative leader spent hours without holding any public events.

Reporters who accompanied Harper to Toronto were taken to a series of suburban parking lots where they waited for confirmation of when they might see the party leader.

By late afternoon, five hours after arriving in southern Ontario, the Conservatives confirmed Harper would hold one photo opportunity at a pumpkin patch in the riding of Markham-Stouffville, accompanied by candidate Paul Calandra.

At Whittamore's Farm, Harper and his family spoke to the owners and walked through the pumpkin patch. Harper and his son Ben shared a laugh over a pumpkin painted royal blue sitting in the patch. The elder Harper joked that while he preferred the blue pumpkin, he wasn't sure that he'd eat it.

Conservative Stephen Harper and his family visited a pumpkin patch in Markham, Ont. 0:51

However the moment did lose some of its partisan potency when a passing trailer of pumpkin pickers saw the Conservative presence and began to chant: "Trudeau! Trudeau!"

Shortly afterwards, the party confirmed a second photo op, this time at a seniors' care facility in Richmond Hill.

That event went ahead without problems, as Harper and his wife Laureen were warmly greeted by the elderly residents and posed for pictures with several of them.

Baird warns against Trudeau 'popularity contest' 

Harper did not, however, make time to take questions from journalists or deliver any formal remarks.

Instead, reporters were given the opportunity to interview former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird, who resigned in February and is not running in this election.

Baird heaped on warnings about the prospect of Canadians electing a Liberal government.

"This is not a popularity contest. Elections have consequence," Baird said. 

Former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird joined the Conservative leader's tour and scrummed with reporters. 1:07

"The polls are close. Justin Trudeau could become prime minister and people have got to think about the consequences of that for themselves and their family."

He cautioned that the Liberals would introduce tax hikes and planned to spend billions, warning it would produce the same "bad results" as electing Premier Kathleen Wynne's Liberals provincially.

"Stephen Harper is the only leader who will protect our economy," added Baird.

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