Surging Canadian Liberals ask for majority mandate in next week's election

Wed Oct 14, 2015 3:04pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

HAMILTON, Ontario (Reuters) - Canadian Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, surging in opinion polls in the final stretch of the election campaign, asked voters on Wednesday to give him a majority government on Oct 19 - but insisted he would not get over-confident.

"Am I asking Canadians to vote for us? Yes. Am I asking them to vote for us across the country? Yes. Am I asking them for a majority government? Yes," Trudeau said in answer to a reporter's question.

Trudeau has rarely talked about the possibility of jumping from the Liberals' third-party status to majority government, mainly because it had seemed to be so far out of reach.

But the Liberal Party has broken out from what had been a virtual tie in polls with the governing Conservatives and the left-of-center New Democratic Party (NDP) and is approaching the support levels that have delivered majority governments.

The Liberals now lead the Conservatives, who are seeking a fourth straight mandate under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, by between five and seven percentage points, and the NDP by 12 to 15 percentage points in three polls released on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The polls - by Nanos, Ekos and Ipsos - have the Liberals winning the support of between 35.6 percent and 37 percent of voters. In the past, majority governments have been formed with support in the high 30s.

Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, prefaced his remarks about asking for a majority government by saying in French: "I don't have the over-confidence to speak about a political strategy. I know Canadians will make a good decision."

Privately, pessimistic Conservatives say their prospects have been hit hard by what they call a "disastrous" campaign by the NDP, led by Thomas Mulcair. This means the center-left vote is flocking to the Liberals rather than splitting between the two parties as it did in the 2011 election, a factor which helped Harper win a majority.   Continued...

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau holds a baby during a campaign stop at restaurant in Welland, Ontario October 14, 2015. Canadians will go to the polls in a federal election on October 19. REUTERS/Chris Wattie