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Conservative leader Stephen Harper steps off the campaign planeRyan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Conservative campaign spending promises to date measure in the millions, not billions, as the governing party gambles that its record and April budget will be enough to win a fourth term in power.

The Conservatives are now the only party that has not yet released a costing of its campaign pledges, but an outside tabulation of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's promises to date shows they come with a small price tag.

Since the early August start of the 78-day election campaign, the Conservatives have made 26 announcements that have a combined cost of $191-million in the first year of a new mandate and $263-million in the fourth year, according to a costing compiled by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. In contrast, the CTF says Liberal spending promises add up to $9.8-billion in the fourth year of their plan and NDP pledges amount to $12.3-billion in new spending by year four.

The report from the CTF – a low-tax advocacy group – limited its focus to promises that lead to new government spending. It did not include measures that would increase or lower taxes.

"The Conservatives are essentially running on their record, it looks like," said Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the federation. "What we're trying to do here is simply highlight the fact that there are significant spending promises being made by two of the parties. So if people are comfortable with that, great. But there is a clear choice … Our question is always 'Well, where is that coming from?' It's going to have to come from taxes."

The Conservatives have made clear that the April budget is the foundation of their re-election bid. Mr. Harper took the political gamble that it would be better for the party's re-election chances to announce key measures like tax cuts and new infrastructure spending while in government rather than leave room in the form of projected surpluses to make flashy promises during the campaign.

That tactical decision meant the Liberals and NDP could not rely on future projected surpluses as the financial source of their own promises. Instead, the Liberals and NDP pledge to repeal tax measures that are now currently in place, including income splitting for families with children under 18 and the near doubling of the maximum annual amount that can be contributed to Tax Free Savings Accounts. The Liberals are also promising short-term deficits to pay for new infrastructure spending while the NDP is relying heavily on a corporate tax increase to cover the cost of its spending without running deficits.

Conservative candidate Pierre Poilievre told reporters on Saturday that the party is running on an "affordable" platform that will not require tax increases.

"We have already released our budget with all the most current economic data and the tax relief that Prime Minister Harper has delivered," he said. "The additional promises that we have made are extremely modest and affordable, all of which will be known to Canadians well before the election."

Questions have been raised, however, over the reliability of the April budget's revenue forecasts, given that the economy has underperformed expectations this year and economists have also lowered their growth forecasts for 2016.

Pollster and Abacus Data chairman Bruce Anderson said the public is not expecting big spending promises from the Conservatives, so the small campaign price tag should not be a surprise. However, in a long campaign, that minimalist approach has left the other parties with more new measures to discuss.

"It has left them in a situation where the other parties have virtually had the field to themselves in terms of talking about newer, bigger ideas and I do think the Conservatives have paid some price for that," he said.