NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is rejecting any last-minute electoral co-operation with the Liberals that would engineer a Conservative defeat, saying his party still has a chance to form government when the votes are counted on election day.
A group calling itself Just The Facts Canada ran a full-page ad in The Globe and Mail on Tuesday urging Mr. Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to cede ridings to each other in constituencies where public opinion surveys suggest they have little chance of winning and vote-splitting could pave the way for a Conservative victory. It is just one of several proposals for strategic voting being promoted by groups that aim to defeat Stephen Harper.
One of the ridings where the group is asking Liberals to bow to the New Democrats is Oshawa, east of Toronto, a Conservative seat where NDP candidate Mary Fowler has a chance to beat Conservative incumbent Colin Carrie. It was Mr. Mulcair's first stop of the day and he made a point of telling supporters who gathered outside an arena: "In this region, as in so many others in Canada, it's only the NDP that can throw out Conservative candidates."
But he wouldn't discuss any form of collaboration that would help Liberals win in other parts of Canada where they are strong and the New Democrats are not.
To those who would suggest pre-election co-operation with Mr. Trudeau, he said: "I will say to those people they should go back to the 2011 polls – the same polls that were showing that the NDP was in fourth place in Quebec a week out from the election campaign."
Elections, said Mr. Mulcair, "are about campaigns, they are about ideas, they are about drive, they are about determination, they are about track records."
Despite surveys that suggest his party has dropped to third place – lagging 10 percentage points behind the front-running Liberals – Mr. Mulcair is still aggressively campaigning for the win and is primarily going to places where his party hopes to take seats from the Conservatives.
But he must also watch his flank. While the NDP Leader was giving a stump speech in Oshawa, Mr. Trudeau was campaigning in the NDP-held riding of Beaches-East York, where incumbent Matthew Kellway is in a tough battle.
"Justin Trudeau has been fighting me more than he's been fighting Stephen Harper," said Mr. Mulcair. "I challenge Mr. Trudeau to start taking on Stephen Harper. My adversary here from Day One, the person I have to defeat and replace, is Stephen Harper."
Later on Tuesday, Mr. Mulcair planned to visit the Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York where his candidate, Olivia Chow, the widow of former NDP leader Jack Layton, is fighting hard to unseat Liberal incumbent Adam Vaughan. Then he intends to take part in a rally in Brampton East, west of Toronto, another Conservative seat.
He was also expected to meet Tuesday with Mohamed Fahmy, the Canadian journalist who was recently pardoned by the Egyptian government after spending many months in a Cairo prison. Mr. Fahmy met with Mr. Trudeau on Monday but has refused invitations to take part in Conservative campaign events.
Since the Conservative government signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal a little more than a week ago, Mr. Mulcair's main message at campaign stops has been that is a bad agreement for Canada and an NDP government would never bring it before Parliament for ratification. He warns that it would kill tens of thousands of Canadian jobs – a figure he obtained from UNIFOR, Canada's largest private-sector trade union.
It is a message that the NDP expects to play particularly well in communities such as Oshawa, where many jobs are based in auto manufacturing – one sector that could be particularly hard hit by the TPP.
Under Stephen Harper's watch, Canada has lost 400,000 well-paying manufacturing jobs, said Mr. Mulcair. "Just in Oshawa, 18,000 manufacturing jobs lost since Stephen Harper came to power," he told the crowd, which was studded with the orange Stop Harper signs that are being passed out at every NDP campaign event. "Jim Stanford, the respected economist [for UNIFOR], estimates that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will cost Oshawa 1,250 more well-paying jobs."
Canada can and should have negotiated a better deal, said Mr. Mulcair. "Stephen Harper showed up two weeks away from the election and got a lousy deal. He was hoping to get something for himself out of that negotiation. I want to get something for Canadian workers when I renegotiate that deal."