TORONTO - Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is warning that Ontario could end up with a minority government coalition in which the Liberals and New Democrats would work together to raise taxes.
"The Liberals and the NDP: they'll increase taxes and they'll spend money on everything under the sun," Hudak said at a campaign stop Sunday.
Hudak's strategy is reminiscent of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's, whose spring election included frequent warnings that the federal Liberals and NDP would scheme to form a coalition if his Conservatives did not get a majority.
Harper offered those warnings from the beginning of his campaign, but Hudak's going hard after the NDP marks a new shift in the days leading up to Thursday's vote.
Polls suggest the Conservatives and the Liberals are essentially in a dead heat. That could leave the New Democrats in the position of kingmaker.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who has promised to spell out her priorities soon, had a "campaign announcement" scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
When asked if he would work with the New Democrats if they dropped a plan to raise the corporate tax rate, Hudak indicated he wasn't interested.
"I'm in this election to win and bring change, not play 'Let's Make a Deal'," Hudak said, stressing the Liberals and NDP would cook up a deal.
Hudak repeatedly mentioned both parties and leaders in the same breath, while hammering the tax issue that he has tried to make central to his campaign.
"That debt-retirement charge? Dalton McGuinty and Andrea Horwath — the Liberals and the NDP — want to make it a permanent tax grab on your hydro bill," Hudak said.
"They'll increase the HST; they'll bring in a carbon tax."
Both the Tories and NDP have been promising pocketbook relief for families.
Earlier in the campaign, the Liberals attacked the NDP platform as being similar to that of the Conservatives, even coming up with the phrase "Horwath-Hudak PCs."
On Saturday, Hudak said McGuinty was cooking up "backroom deals" in a bid to remain premier even if the Liberals fail to win the most seats on Thursday.
The latest polls — including one conducted by Environics Research Group exclusively for The Canadian Press — suggest the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives are in a dead heat, with the New Democrats gaining ground.
The results suggest Ontario could end up with a minority government for the first time in 26 years.