Leaders head into final day of campaign; new poll has Liberals in the lead

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TORONTO - It's Day 29 of the Ontario election campaign, the last day for politicians to make their promises before the people have their say at the ballot box.

Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty, buoyed by new poll results, has just three stops planned — in Windsor, Strathroy and Oakville.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is making six stops between Toronto and Brantford.

New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath has an ambitious eight-stop schedule that includes events in Toronto, Kitchener, Guelph and Niagara Falls.

The last day to drum up votes comes as a new poll suggests the Liberals have taken a solid lead entering the home stretch of the campaign.

The Ipsos Reid survey suggests the Liberals have 41 per cent support amongst decided voters and the Progressive Conservatives have 31 per cent backing. The New Democrats are favoured by 25 per cent while the Green Party sits at three per cent.

While they are too young to elect the next government, more than 300,000 students under the voting age are casting ballots as part of the Student Vote Ontario program.

Students are taking on the roles of deputy returning officers and poll clerks as students vote for the official candidates running in their school's electoral district.

Their vote follows a series of school-wide activities where students learned about political parties, platforms and local candidates.

The results of Student Vote Ontario will be released after the official polls close on Thursday.

Horwath went looking for votes in the northern part of the province on Tuesday, her fourth visit to the region.

The needs of First Nations didn't get enough attention throughout the campaign, but that doesn't mean the NDP hasn't been working to make sure their concerns are heard, she said.

The New Democrats have promised to create a separate ministry for aboriginal affairs and take the Far North Act back to the drawing table.

Horwath also said she was proud to have run a clean campaign, saying the Liberals and Tories have turned voters off with their negative campaigns.

The abortion issue dogged Hudak on Tuesday.

A number of pro-choice advocates warned voters a Progressive Conservative government would endanger abortion rights despite the fact that Hudak said he won't reopen the debate.

The advocates fear Hudak would quietly defund abortion while in office without ever bringing the issue to the legislature.

Hudak stated he has no intention of restricting access or changing funding to abortion if his party were to form a government after Thursday's vote.

"The answer is no," he said at a campaign stop in Ottawa. "As premier, I'm not reopening this issue. I consider the matter settled."

McGuinty played it safe, reading to kids in Cambridge, serving pizza to Liberal supporters in Bolton, and saying very little that could hurt his chances for re-election.

With polls showing the Liberals seemingly edging ahead of the Tories, McGuinty's day was surprisingly light and tightly scripted.

And when questioned by reporters, he gave virtually the same answer regardless of the question: with economic storm clouds gathering, this is not the time for Ontario voters to change leaders.

"There is tremendous uncertainty to be found in the global economy," he said. "As we turn and face that challenge, it’s pretty important to have someone at the tiller who brings a strong, steady measured hand."

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