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Premier Robert Ghiz and his wife Kate Ellis Ghiz arrive at a leaders' debate for the Prince Edward Island provincial election in Charlottetown on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
Premier Robert Ghiz and his wife Kate Ellis Ghiz arrive at a leaders' debate for the Prince Edward Island provincial election in Charlottetown on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

PEI leaders stick to support bases in final hours of election campaign Add to ...

The leaders of the governing and Opposition parties in Prince Edward Island stuck to their support bases in the final hours of campaigning before Monday's provincial election.

Despite a heavy rain, Liberal Premier Robert Ghiz – who is seeking a second term in government – was out early Saturday at a pancake breakfast in Emyvale, just west of Charlottetown.

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The area has been loyal to the Grits in recent years, and such support was on display as people wearing Liberal red campaign shirts scurried around a community hall, serving plates of pancakes and sausages as Ghiz arrived.

Going into the campaign, Ghiz said he would not make any outlandish promises. He stuck to that generic message Saturday, saying he needs a second mandate to improve access to health and education.

“We're going to concentrate on improving health care and education, especially post-secondary education and making it more accessible, and more help for our seniors with an aging population, but also planning for the future,” he said.

Ghiz later went door-to-door in his district of Charlottetown-Brighton, a largely residential constituency.

Conservative Leader Olive Crane spent the day in King's County, where her party traditionally has its best showing.

Crane said she was pleased with how the campaign unfolded, but said there was more work to be done.

“We will not stop working until seven o'clock on Monday evening,” she said as she stood in front of a potato farm in Bangor, which lies in her home district of Morell-Mermaid.

Crane has campaigned on promises to boost drug coverage and slash taxes, including a reduction in the provincial sales tax from 10 to 8 per cent.

“That's going to help stimulate confidence in Islanders and the small to medium-sized business sector,” she said.

As is the tradition in PEI, there is no campaigning on the final Sunday before the election. Crane and Ghiz both said they'd spend that day with their families and speaking to candidates by phone.

At dissolution, the Liberals had 24 seats in the legislature, the Conservatives had two and there was one vacancy.

At 37, Ghiz is Canada's youngest premier, but he has eight years of front-line political experience. He was first elected to the legislature in 2003.

He grew up around politics. His father Joe served two terms as the province's premier from 1986 to 1993.

Crane, 53, became the party's leader last year and she is the only Tory incumbent seeking re-election.

The four-week campaign was largely uneventful. Both leaders took pains to avoid risks while on the campaign trail, waiting until the last week of the campaign to release their full platforms.

But just more than a week after the legislature was dissolved, accusations surfaced about a failed immigration nominee program.

Three former employees of the province alleged the program was marred by bribery. The federal Immigration Department forwarded the accusations to the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The Mounties are considering whether to proceed with an investigation after a former immigration program employee alleged she saw senior provincial officials accept cash that she believes was intended to fast-track immigration applications from China.

Ghiz said the accusations are unfounded and dismissed them as an attempt to blindside his government in the midst of the campaign.

During the televised leaders' debate, Crane said Ghiz failed the public by not probing the allegations further, going so far as to call him a “disgrace.”

The New Democrats, Greens and Island party are also fielding candidates, but only the Liberals and Conservatives are running full slates.

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