QUEBEC — After a week of sticking to within driving distance of Ottawa, the Conservative campaign is taking to the air to cover more distance, planning to crisscross the country in only a few days this week. But first, Prime Minister Stephen Harper returns to the Greater Toronto Area where the Conservatives are fighting to keep the seats that in 2011 helped them win a majority government. The Conservatives fired up their campaign plane on Sunday, taking the chartered aircraft up before any of their opponents in what could be seen as a sign of the health of the party's war chest. The Tories have outpaced their counterparts in fundraising, and their riding associations are sitting on more money than the NDP and Liberals combined. The 11-week campaign period, which is more than double the usual five-week campaign, allows the parties to spend double what they would have been allowed, helping to fuel a plane for 10 more weeks until election day on Oct. 19. The plane should help the party meet an aggressive travel schedule this week that will reportedly take Harper to the West and should hit Canada's North, an area of the country Harper has made a key region during his time in office. Harper flew on Sunday to Quebec City from Ottawa, hitting ridings that the Tories hope to hold and possibly expand. The rally in the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent is one of the ridings the Tories believe they can win as the incumbent NDP MP, Alexandre Latendresse, isn't running for re-election. Instead, the Tories are hoping a former provincial politician, Gerard Detell, can take back the seat the Tories lost in 2011. On Monday, Harper is to be in Brampton for an event. The Toronto suburb went Tory blue in 2011, and is rich with families that the Conservatives are courting along with the Liberals with promises of child care benefits and the NDP that is promising $15 a day daycare.
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