October 18, 2015 / 3:07 PM / 2 years ago

Canada PM appeals for support as rival leads before Monday vote

NEWMARKET/TORONTO, Ontario (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his team on Sunday urged Conservative supporters to get out the vote as polls showed Liberal rival Justin Trudeau holding a firm lead one day before the country’s fiercely fought election.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau speaks during a campaign rally in Calgary, Alberta, October 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Fighting for a rare fourth term as prime minister, Harper used a rally in Newmarket-Aurora, just north of Toronto, to again tout his economic track record.

“There is an awful lot at stake,” he told a crowd of about 600 supporters. “The choice we make is going to have real consequences for the next four years for families, for seniors, for small business.”

A Nanos survey released on Sunday put the Liberals at 37.3 percent, approaching levels needed to win a majority of seats in Parliament in Monday’s vote. They lead the Tories by almost 7 percentage points, with the left-leaning New Democratic Party at 22.1 percent.

An Ipsos poll also published Sunday found 38 percent of decided voters prefer the Liberals, 31 percent the Conservatives and 22 percent the New Democrats.

Still, the Conservatives have a strong get-out-the-vote track record, which could help them perform better than polls suggest.

“Elections in some ridings are determined not by who votes, but by who does not vote,” Conservative member of parliament Peter Van Loan said at the rally.

Speaking to supporters in Toronto, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair remained feisty, even though his party has sunk to a distant third.

Mulcair, who like Liberal Trudeau is wooing centrist voters in addition to his party’s left-leaning base, argued the NDP’s promise of four years of balanced budgets is socially progressive.

Building up billions of dollars of debt is “a way of the past,” he said, trying to allay voter fears that an NDP government would run up huge deficits with its social spending.

Addressing a 1,000-strong crowd in Edmonton in the oil-rich province of Alberta, his rival Trudeau indirectly addressed the lingering hostility toward his father, Pierre Trudeau, who was prime minister for all but about nine months from 1968 to 1984. The elder Trudeau alienated the West with energy policies enacted during his rule.

Justin Trudeau said he came to deliver a message that Alberta matters deeply to him. The Liberals have not had a seat in the province since 2006.

“It’s a message that I‘m proud to deliver here with a big smile as a Liberal, as a Trudeau and as a Quebecer,” he said.

Additional reporting by Randall Palmer in Edmonton and Jeffrey Hodgson in Toronto; Editing by Josephine Mason and Alan Crosby

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