Federal party leaders scramble on last day of election campaign

DECISION 2011: Harper shuts down press questions after testy exchange, Layton and Ignatieff push their platforms.

Photo of Michael Ignatieff courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

OTTAWA -- The federal party leaders are scrambling to reach key ridings on the last day of the election campaign, and in one case, deciding to shut down daily news conferences.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will touch down in three time zones before the day is out, making appearances in Stratford, P.E.I., London, Ont. and Abbotsford.

After battling with the media throughout the campaign and limiting them to five questions a day, Harper has decided to not take any questions Sunday from reporters travelling with him, his aides said.

The move follows a testy exchange Saturday with a reporter who pressed Harper on whether he would accept the decision of the Governor General should a minority Conservative government again lose the confidence of the Commons and the next-biggest party was asked to form government.

Harper said he would not answer hypothetical questions, and when the reporter continued, Conservative supporters started booing.

Harper has been retuning his speeches in recent days to focus on the surging NDP, leaving the Liberals almost unmentioned.

"An NDP government will raise taxes. A Conservative government will keep taxes down,'' he told supporters Saturday night in Windsor, N.S.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff will make five stops in the Toronto region Sunday. Opinion polls have suggested Liberal support is dropping almost everywhere but the party retains strength in the seat-rich Toronto area.

NDP Leader Jack Layton will make a morning pitch for votes in Montreal before boarding a bus for Toronto and making whistle stops in Kingston, Ont and Oshawa, Ont.

The New Democrats are aiming for a historic breakthrough, based largely on rising support in Quebec.

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