05/02/2012 03:33 EDT | Updated 07/02/2012 05:12 EDT

Election anniversary sees Tories, New Democrats claim political victory

OTTAWA - A year after the federal election both the Conservatives and New Democrats are claiming political victory — while a new poll suggests the two are actually in a dead heat.

But the third-place Liberals say neither should get too comfortable.

It was a day of looking back and looking forward as all three major parties marked the historic May 2, 2011, election, which returned the Tories with a majority government, saw the New Democrats surge into Opposition and the Liberals reduced to a rump third party.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned fellow Tory MPs not to rest on their laurels, but to keep working on the party's plans for prosperity.

"A majority mandate cannot change who we are and how we govern. Our values are our values, our commitments to Canadians must be honoured," he said.

"But our majority does give us the opportunity to look at the bigger picture and to focus on the longer term."

Harper said the financial crises of the last few years might not be a passing phenomenon for many countries and there's a historic shift in world economic power and wealth.

"We as Canadians must decide that we will be on the right side of that history," he said.

The New Democratic Party would prefer to see the country more on the left.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said for his party, a longer-term focus means getting ready to govern Canada.

"In 2015, Canadians will have the chance to write a new page of history and elect a government that says what it thinks and does what it says," he said.

Mulcair paid tribute to his predecessor, the late Jack Layton, who died only a few months after leading the New Democrats to their historic win.

He said it was as though the wheels of the nation stopped turning the week Layton died.

"But if there's one thing Jack knew, it's that when you get knocked down, you've gotta get right back up," he said.

"We have a job to do and Canadians are counting on us to continue the work that Jack started."

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae warned both the Tories and NDP not to get too full of themselves as they revel in last year's electoral success.

"I'd say to both Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Harper, 'Please, don't inhale too much.' I've seen polls go up and down," Rae said.

A Canadian Press-Harris Decima survey taken in the last week of April showed the Conservatives and the NDP in a statistical tie.

The poll of just over 1,000 people indicates the NDP has 33 per cent support while the Tories have 30 per cent.

But with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, support for the two parties could be equally split.

The poll suggests that support for the Tories has dropped since election day when they received 39.6 per cent of the popular vote, while the NDP's support is unchanged.

They became official Opposition with 30.6 per cent of the popular vote.

The vote saw the Liberals sink to third-party status with 18.9 per cent of the vote, and the new poll suggests their support still hovers around that mark.

Rae said Liberals "understand the message" voters sent them last year and are being "modest and humble" as a result.

He suggested the NDP and Tories, whom he dubbed "walking bumper stickers" would be wise to adopt the same attitude.

"I find it funny the way these guys they primp themselves up, they promote themselves, they repeat the same slogans. ... I don't think Canadians believe, really, frankly, either one because I don't think Canadians believe in this kind of self-promotion."

The party used the occasion to officially launch a bid to entice Canadians back into the fold of their once-mighty party with the creation of a new category of Liberal "supporters."

Anyone willing to register as a supporter can now take part in choosing future Liberal leaders and policy development, without becoming a card-carrying, fee-paying member.

While the NDP has supplanted the Liberals as the official Opposition, the Grits are still No. 2 when it comes to raising money.

Financial returns, filed with Elections Canada, show the Liberals raised $2.3 million in the first three months of this year. The NDP raised just less than $2 million, half of which was pulled in by candidates in the party's leadership contest, which culminated with the election of Mulcair on March 23.

The money-hoovering Tories continued to outpace both opposition parties, raking in $5 million. But their advantage has eroded. They've raised only twice as much as the Liberals so far this year, compared to three and four times more than the opposition parties in years past.