Leaders sharpen messages on final day

New Democrat Leader Jack Layton was telling supporters his party can defeat Stephen Harper, as the Conservative leader appealed to Liberal supporters to defect to his party.
Federal party leaders are hitting the campaign trail for the last time, making a final push for support in several key ridings before voters go to the polls on Monday. (Canadian Press/Reuters)

For the first time in this election campaign, New Democrat Leader Jack Layton says his party can defeat Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

Layton made the remarks while speaking to the overflow crowd gathered outside his Kingston, Ont., campaign office during a rally on Sunday.

"I want you to create lineups at the polls, my friends, because we can defeat Stephen Harper," Layton told the crowd.

The comment underscores the NDP leader's increasingly confident tone as Monday's vote approaches.

Harper was taking his campaign across the country as he pushes for momentum ahead of Monday's election.

Harper kicked off the day with a rally in Stratford, P.E.I., where he touted his economic plan and blasted the surging NDP, saying their platform would lead to "billions and billions of dollars in job-killing tax hikes." 

By day's end, he will have made stops in three time zones as he tries to build enough support to secure his first majority.

NDP touts 'winds of change'

The NDP leader, took his "winds of change" message to supporters in Montreal and Kingston.

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Layton told a crowd of supporters in Montreal that the NDP was experiencing a "historic opportunity" that began in Quebec.

He urged supporters to make sure friends, family members and neighbours get to the polls on Monday.

"If we’re going to make these winds of change really happen, then we’ve got a lot of work to do," Layton said Sunday.

After the Montreal event, he headed to Kingston, where large crowds lined the street waiting for his arrival. He was slated to stop in Oshawa, Toronto and Scarborough later in the day.

Harper targets Liberal voters

Harper also repeated his pitch for support from traditional Liberal voters, saying the best Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff can hope for is to be a "backseat passenger" in the NDP government.

Harper said the choice in the election is "increasingly stark" as voters prepare to head to the polls.

"You can have an NDP government or a Conservative government."

"Nothing is decided yet," Harper told the cheering crowd in P.E.I. "Every effort is going to matter, every riding here, everywhere else, is in play. Every vote counts."

After his stop in P.E.I., Harper was scheduled to fly to London, Ont., for another event, before ending up in Abbotsford, B.C.

Ignatieff was ending his campaign with a trek through the Greater Toronto Area, with stops in Ajax, Markham, Toronto, Thornhill and Maple.

He hit back against Harper's appeal to Liberal supporters, accusing the Conservative leader of trying to destroy him and the party, emphasized the difference between the Liberals and the NDP.

"We've worked together often on things where we have shared values, but hey — we know how to balance a budget, we know how to get a deficit under control, we know how to make promises and keep them," he said.

Ignatieff pointed to Liberal experience, saying Layton and the NDP have never formed a federal government.

"We've been there, we've done it," he said. "Every Liberal knows in their heart of hearts we're two different families, two different traditions."

Ignatieff told reporters he believes many Canadians are still undecided, and he urged voters to make up their own mind before casting their ballot.

He said again he believes a strong Liberal base will turn out and vote, saying the party has spent a "tremendous amount of time" working on a modern "get-out-the-vote operation."

Duceppe rallies voters in home riding

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe was back in his Montreal riding Sunday for an event at his campaign office. There were fewer than 60 people there to see the man who's led the party through six elections and sat in the House of Commons for 21 years.  

Duceppe says he's counting on Bloc supporters, focusing his comments on the party's love for Quebec and desire for the province to become its own country. But he wouldn't talk about how this campaign has been different from the other ones he's led, as polls suggest NDP support has overtaken support for the Bloc.  

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe, right, speaks to the media as his wife Yolande Brunelle looks on during a campaign stop in Montreal on Sunday. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

"I'm always concerned about results as long as they're not known. Otherwise it's a kind of contempt towards the electorate," Duceppe said when asked about his own seat.  

"I've had very different campaigns during all those years. I commented on them after they were over. Each time. So I won't change this time," he said.  

Duceppe also took a shot at an NDP candidate who is running in a mostly Francophone area of Quebec but doesn't speak French.  

"We've recognized the Quebec nation. That nation has a language. That language is French," Duceppe said. "That's not trivial... we have candidates who don't speak a word of French running in ridings in Quebec where it's not even one per cent Anglo."

Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois joined Duceppe on the campaign trail Saturday. The Bloc leader had another prominent supporter at one of his events Saturday — Muguette Paillé, a 53-year-old unemployed woman from Sainte-Angèle-de-Prémont in Quebec's Mauricie region, who generated buzz earlier in the campaign when she asked the leaders about job creation during the French-language debate.

Paillé, who still hasn't found a full-time job, said she will support the Bloc because she feels it's the best choice to defend Quebec's interests.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will be in B.C., where she is trying to win a seat in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding.


  • An earlier version of this story said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May would be campaigning in Quebec on Sunday. She was, in fact, campaigning in B.C.

With files from The Canadian Press