Liberals leading as Canadians head to poll

  • 20/10/2015
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau marks his ballot (Reuters)
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau marks his ballot (Reuters)

Canadians have begun voting in general elections, with polls showing Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party positioned to end nine years of Stephen Harper's Tory rule.

Polling released on the eve of Monday's vote (local time) showed the Liberals leading the Tories by eight points, after a late surge from third place.

Public opinion, however, has swung wildly - up to 12 percentage points - during the campaign.

At a final campaign stop in western Canada on Sunday, Trudeau said the Liberals offer "not just a change in government, but a better government."

The 43-year-old is the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who is considered the father of modern Canada.

He is hoping for a repeat of the "Trudeaumania" that in 1968 replaced the plodding management style of the old guard with his late father's bullish vision and flare that Canadians were craving.

But Harper warned Canadians would pay more taxes under a Liberal government that would also plunge the nation back into deficit.

"Every single vote for a Conservative candidate is a vote to protect our economy against Liberal... deficits and taxes," he said.

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair, meanwhile, recalled scandals of the last Liberal administration.

"They may try to fool you by giving the old car a fresh coat of paint. But as we've seen, the Liberal party is just as rusted-out underneath as it was when Canadians kicked them out of office for corruption the last time," Mulcair said.

Up to 26.4 million electors are expected to vote.

In power since 2006, Harper is seeking a fourth mandate, hoping to hold on to key Tory support in the western plains and in suburban Toronto, Canada's largest city.

Over the past nine years, he has led two minority governments and one majority government, under mandates that have never exceeded 40 percent of the popular vote.

But Harper is now up against a strong desire for a change in government and his personal image is at an all-time low.

According to the latest Nanos survey, the Liberals have 38.2 percent support versus 30.1 percent for the Tories, while the NDP sank to 22.2 percent.