Canadian contenders battle in final weekend of campaign

Sat Oct 17, 2015 3:50pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters) - Canada's political leaders began their final weekend dashes on Saturday before voters decide on Monday whether to grant Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper a rare fourth consecutive mandate after a prolonged and hard-fought election campaign.

"This is going to be a close election," Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, the front runner, told about 1,000 supporters in Halifax, on Canada's east coast.

Later he told reporters he was not taking anything for granted.

"We're on the verge of accomplishing something big," Trudeau, 43, said.

Speaking at a rally in Laval, Quebec, Harper touted his economic track record and dodged questions about his relationship with controversial former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who admitted to smoking crack during his time in office.

"Just two days from now, you will choose a government to manage your economy for the next four years," he told a gathering of about 1,000 supporters.

Harper will attend a rally in Toronto later on Saturday attended by Ford, now a city councillor, whose small-government, anti-tax message has kept him popular in parts of city's vote-rich suburbs.

Thomas Mulcair, leader of the left-leaning New Democratic Party, took aim at Trudeau and the ethics of his Liberal team.   Continued...

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau greets supporters during a campaign rally in Saint John, New Brunswick, October 17, 2015. Canadians will go to the polls in a federal election on October 19. REUTERS/Chris Wattie