Party leaders get into position for sprint to electoral finish

Leaders stake out positions ahead of federal election Monday

Conservative leader Stephen Harper (L), greets NDP leader Thomas Mulcair (R) as Liberal leader Justin Trudeau looks on prior to the beginning of  the Globe and Mail Leaders Debate in Calgary, Alberta September 17, 2015. (MIKE STURK/Reuters)

(Mike Sturk/Reuters)

OTTAWA – The major party leaders are getting into position ahead of this weekend’s sprint to the election finish, spouting now-familiar refrains on the economy and the middle class to voters.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau trumpeted his plan for retirement security as a way to highlight his campaign theme of help for the middle class.

But controversy over the lobbying activities of Trudeau’s now former campaign co-chairman threatened to overshadow the Liberal narrative heading into Monday’s vote.

Trudeau tried to use the resignation of Dan Gagnier to insist the Liberals are serious about political ethics, but the NDP and Conservatives are not about to let it go, saying it illustrates that the culture of the Liberal party has not changed since the days of the sponsorship scandal.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper hammered home his consistent campaign message of low taxes and financial stability to a Quebec audience today, telling them the economy is the No. 1 priority.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair continued his focus on targeting Conservative ridings in the final days of the campaign, visiting Lac-Megantic — in a Tory-held riding — to highlight the issue of rail safety and saying the New Democrats would seek to reverse the Conservative-driven trend towards allowing industries with a direct impact on public safety to self-regulate.