Canadians will vote in a federal election on Monday that looks likely to put an end to the decade-long reign of prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, and may be followed by uncertain negotiations to secure a more left-leaning government.
The opposition Liberals, under Justin Trudeau, eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, are poised to secure the most seats in parliament, polls suggest, while falling short of the 170 required for a majority. The worry is the Liberals, who have governed for much of the past century, will require the backing of Tom Mulcair's New Democratic Party, which has socialist roots, to stay in power and pass legislation.
The possibility has rattled investors since the election campaign began in August and uncertainty over the election outcome has traders seeking to protect against currency swings next week.
Other possible scenarios making the outcome of the October 19th vote the most interesting in decades are a Conservative minority, constitutional wrangling over governing legitimacy, an outright coalition and even a repeat election.
The front-running Liberals are seeking to win back votes in Toronto and its suburbs as the race tightens.
Mr Trudeau appeared in Mississauga, Brampton, Richmond Hill and Markham yesterday – all populous districts around Canada’s biggest city where Liberal losses four years ago helped deliver a majority for the incumbent Conservatives.
The region is again a battleground, with Mr Harper set to appear tomorrow at a rally with Toronto's controversial former mayor, Rob Ford, who admitted to smoking crack cocaine before leaving office.
Votes in the city and suburbs are particularly critical as two polls show Mr Trudeau’s lead narrowing slightly.
“We have made a straightforward choice. We think the Canadian economy – and the people of Toronto specifically – need investments,” the Liberal leader said, citing his platform of infrastructure spending and a middle-class tax cut.
"We have made very different choices from Mr Mulcair and Mr Harper when it comes to investing in Canada. "
Both Harper and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair promise to balanced budgets, while Mr Trudeau has said he'd run three years of deficits to kick-start Canada's economy. – (Bloomberg)