NEWS
08/07/2015 17:36 EDT | Updated 08/07/2016 01:12 EDT

Some of the key developments Wednesday on the federal campaign trail

OTTAWA — A look at some of the key developments in the federal election campaign on Friday:

With the echoes of the first campaign debate still ringing on Friday, the Liberals and the Greens claimed victory, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said he'd accomplished his debate goals and Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he felt good, but he'd leave judgment to the pundits. As the first week of the marathon campaign for the Oct. 19 election wound down, the leader tours took tentative steps down the campaign trail, perhaps sensing that people's attention is more focused on the waning summer than on the political future.

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Harper's first campaign event was a brief speech in the back yard of a suburban Toronto home, where he used a backdrop of mothers and toddlers to showcase his government's universal child-care benefit. He warned that the Liberals would kill the benefit and the NDP would cause economic havoc, but he evaded direct questions on whether economy has already slipped back into recession. Mulcair says it has, but Harper sidestepped. "You either stick with the plan that's working and has most of our economy growing, or you adopt plans that throw all of the economy backwards — and that's what the NDP proposes." He also warned of a tax-and-spend Trudeau: "He will cut your taxes, but only if first he gets to raise your taxes. That's what every tax-hiking politician says."

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Mulcair's tour meandered through central Ontario between Toronto and Ottawa. In Toronto, he said he wants to see more debates, but only if the prime minister is on board. "We're more than willing to work and take part in the consortium debate, but we're also expecting Stephen Harper to say the same thing." Mulcair took advantage of a stop in Peterborough to remind locals that their former MP, one-time Conservative Dean Del Mastro, was convicted of cheating on campaign expenses. Peterborough really, strongly wants a change, Mulcair said, to laughter from the crowd.

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While his campaign staff issued a news release trumpeting Justin Trudeau's debate performance, the leader used a stop in Finance Minister Joe Oliver's Toronto riding to criticize the Conservative handling of the economy. Trudeau said the Harper government has put Canada in deficit and the Liberals would balance the books. He didn't say how long that might take, however. "We are committed to a balanced budget, but how long it takes to get there will depend on the size of the mess Mr. Harper has left behind."

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Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, complained that the leaders debate was disrespectful to Quebecers because it touched on separatism in the absence of the only federal separatist party — his own. During the debate, Trudeau accused Mulcair of wanting to ditch the Clarity Act the make it easier for Quebec to separate. Duceppe said he doesn't understand how the other leaders could claim separatism is dead, then discuss it in the debate. The only French-language leaders debate confirmed so far is scheduled for Oct. 2.

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Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, who has been waging her own guerilla war on Harper since the campaign began, weighed in again on Friday, complaining about a troubled relationship with the prime minister. "The reality is that the relationship with Stephen Harper has been a difficult one," Wynne said in Toronto outside the Ontario legislature. "I have tried to work with him. The fact is, it has deteriorated." She said a prime minister has to work with the provinces, for the good of the whole country.

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The Canadian Press