Michael Ignatieff says he is "working like hell" to get out the vote, believing that in the end the Liberal base that hasn't been there for him in the national opinion polls will finally materialize at the polls on Monday.
"A lot of you folks are going to be very, very surprised. The proud Liberal army is going to show up on the second of May," the Liberal leader predicted in a weekend interview. "We fight for the last vote ... It's not over. I've got a of vote to get out. I've got a lot of people to persuade."
He sure does - if the latest Nanos Research poll Sunday is any indication. It has the Liberals with 22.7 per cent support nationally compared to 37 per cent for the Harper Conservatives and 30.6 per cent for Jack Layton's NDP.
The poll was conducted between April 28 and 30.
Mr. Ignatieff won't wave a white flag. Campaigning in Ontario this weekend, where he needs to shore up his vote, he dismissed opinion polls that have repeatedly delivered him a harsh reality - that his so-called natural governing party is now running third - behind the NDP and Conservatives.
"Polls don't elect MPs," Mr. Ignatieff said. "Votes elect MPs. Let's wait for the Canadian people to do what they want to do, which is to choose a moderate, compassionate bunch of MPs ... and this is when the pollsters have to step down ... and I have to step back and let the Canadian people make their choice."
Mr. Ignatieff said that he has had a "wonderful campaign". He noted his rallies have been packed and "everywhere I go people are coming out, pushing their children forward to let me give them a kiss."
In the last election, an estimated 800,000 Liberals stayed home and did not vote - either turned off by leader Stephane Dion or his policies, including the so-called Green Shift environment plan.
So this is what he is banking on now - that all of those Liberals, and the undecided in the polls, will come out for his party.
He emphasized that he's an optimistic guy - "Do I look like a person who is down?" he asked, referring to himself as a "happy warrior."
Some observers have described what they see as a disconnect between Mr. Ignatieff at his rallies - there are big, enthusiastic crowds and he seems to connect with them - and his support in the polls.
He dismissed the fact that his message about waste and mismanagement in the government and Stephen Harper's attack on democracy and its institutions is not resonating.
"We want the Liberal base to stand up, speak up for democracy, speak up for fiscal responsibility, speak up for investing in our future of our kids ... we have had two and a half years of the politics of personal assassination ... Canadians are mighty sick of it," he said.
Mr. Ignatieff rejected, too, that Canadians aren't sick enough to vote out the Harper Conservatives, at least according to the polls.
"I refuse to believe that this stuff works," he said, referring to the attack ads the Tories launched against him well before the writ was even dropped.
It has come to the point now, however, that the Conservative leader is even counting out Mr. Ignatieff, once his main rival. In stump speeches this weekend, Mr. Harper warned Canadians against voting for the NDP. He has even urged Liberals to vote for him to stop the NDP.
For his part, Mr. Ignatieff said that is typical of Mr. Harper - "Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? He has run the whole campaign on the basis of fear."
About the NDP leader, who is surging in the polls, Mr. Ignatieff said that Mr. Layton has had a "free pass" and has not been subject to the kind of scrutiny that he has.
He suggested Canadians take a close look at Mr. Layton and his policy promises - "Now, it's show time," he said.Report Typo/Error