It was Tom Mulcair's last chance to pitch his party to a province where many believe the 2015 federal election will be won or lost, and where the flagging New Democrats could still make some gains when the ballots are counted on Monday.
"I invite everyone here in British Columbia who's not already in this room, who wants change on Monday, to join with the NDP and together we will defeat Stephen Harper," Mr. Mulcair told a crowd of several thousand supporters who turned out to cheer on the NDP Leader at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Saturday afternoon.
Mr. Mulcair has visited British Columbia many times in this long, eleven-week campaign – and twice in less than a week – in the hope of picking up a few seats from Stephen Harper's Tories.
"Canadians know that, across British Columbia, only the NDP defeats Conservatives," Mr. Mulcair said earlier on Saturday at the crowded Burnaby–North Seymour constituency office of Carol Baird Ellan, a retired chief justice of the B.C. provincial court who is running for the New Democrats.
It has become the mantra of his campaign. And just a few weeks ago, in B.C. at least, it appeared to be true. The Liberals had just two British Columbia MPs when the election was called on Aug. 2, while the NDP had 12. Provincially, the New Democrats have a presence and a ground game that the Liberals do not.
But the rising popularity of Justin Trudeau has prompted many of the voters who want to eject Mr. Harper to take a look at the Liberals, and polls now suggest there is a three-way race shaping up on Canada's west coast. Liberals are likely to add British Columbia MPs to their caucus. And the battles between Liberals and New Democrats could create splits that allow Conservative candidates to sail up the middle.
So the NDP is fighting hard. It has plastered ridings like Burnaby–North Seymour, where there are concerns about the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, with flyers that tell voters Mr. Trudeau's campaign co-chair Dan Gagnier had to resign after advising TransCanada Corp. about approaching the incoming government regarding another pipeline in the east. And they have created radio ad specifically for the B.C. audience.
For his part, Mr. Mulcair is still smiling and upbeat at campaign events. He will not answer questions about co-operation with any other party in a minority situation after election day – or whether he will step down if his party finishes in third place as the polls currently suggest.
He was introduced to the cheering crowd at the convention centre by Stephen Lewis, a former leader of the NDP in Ontario and a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations. Mr. Lewis ripped through both Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau, calling the Conservative Leader a "pretend fraudulent feminist" for his opposition to the niqab and saying the Liberals are "Pavlovian" in their need to engage in corruption.
When it was the NDP Leader's turn to speak, he stuck to the script he has been delivering for the past few days – one that focusing heavily on the perceived failures of his rivals.
"Let me say this to each and every British Columbian. On Monday, you will have a crucial role in the outcome of this election," Mr. Mulcair said to a loud response from the crowd. "We have a real choice. We don't have to replace Conservative corruption with the gang that brought us the sponsorship scandal."