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Politics Harper attacks Trudeau over cost of Liberal pledges

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper looks on as Nicole Ropp throws money on the counter as they illustrate how Liberal tax hikes will affect Canadians during a Harper campaign event at an apple farm in Waterloo, Ont., Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Stephen Harper piled cash high on a table at a Waterloo campaign stop as the second-place Conservative campaign went on the offensive, using props and sound effects to attack the cost of front-runner Justin Trudeau's election promises.

The Conservative Leader also dismissed polls showing his party significantly behind the Liberals.

"The polls are in fact all over the map. Polls don't decide elections. Voters do," Mr. Harper said Monday. "Do voters really want to replace benefits they have with a bunch of deficits?"

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During the Harper campaign's money shot, the ding of a cash register bell rang out as each bill was dropped on the table in front of a large sign tallying up what the Conservatives say are the thousands of dollars in tax hikes that would result from a Liberal victory.

The Liberals have increased their lead nationally over the Conservatives to 6.8 percentage points in the latest Nanos Research tracking poll, paid for by CTV and The Globe and Mail. The survey (read it here) contacted 1,200 Canadians from Oct. 9 to 11, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, the pollster said. This marks the 11th straight day the Liberals have polled ahead of the Conservatives, who are now below the 30-per-cent mark for the third day in a row.

Mr. Harper stood beside a poster designed as a pay stub for a "Typical Canadian," residing at "123 Maple Street" in "Small Town," Canada, as Conservative supporter Nicole Ropp laid out thousands of dollars meant to tally up the purported costs her family would bear following Mr. Trudeau taking power.

"As Conservatives, we believe the Ropps should keep that money," the Conservative Leader said. "There is a lot at risk; a lot to think about."

The Conservatives are attacking Mr. Trudeau's pledge to end income-splitting for parents, which reduces the total tax payable for the Ropps, among others, as well as the Liberal promise to expand the Canada Pension Plan, which would raise payroll contributions for some workers and their employers.

However, Mr. Harper didn't mention the goodies the Liberals are offering voters, including a tax break for middle-income families. Mr. Trudeau's campaign responded by noting their platform would "save middle-class families up to $1,350 per year by lowering the middle-class tax bracket."

The Tory Leader said that unlike Mr. Trudeau, his government will deliver more tax breaks without running deficits – "a Canada where more tax dollars are left in your pockets." The Liberals plan to go into the red for three more years to fund a major public-works program.

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Mr. Harper reviewed the billions of dollars in tax cuts his government has made over the last nine years and urged Canadians to consider the impact of their vote on Oct. 19.

"The average Canadian family now has more than $6,000 additional in their pockets," he said. "That's equivalent to what some families would spend for a year on their groceries."

John McCallum, the Liberal candidate for Markham-Thornhill, called Mr. Harper's attack an act of desperation.

"Stephen Harper's ridiculous event [Monday] morning is nothing more than fear-mongering. The Liberal Party has a real, immediate plan to grow the middle class and make life better for all Canadians. A new Liberal government will introduce, as its very first Bill in Parliament, a tax cut for the middle class, so that Canadians see more money on their paycheques right away."

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