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A look at key developments on the federal campaign trail Wednesday

OTTAWA — A look at Wednesday's key developments on the campaign trail:

The Syrian refugee crisis and Canada's role in helping deal with the situation found its way onto the campaign trail again on Wednesday. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau both talked about the migrant flood while the NDP leader, Tom Mulcair, was forced to defend an offensive aide as he tried to talk about keeping the books balanced. All three leaders were in southern Ontario, a vote-rich region which has been his hard by manufacturing closures.

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Trudeau took aim at Harper's contention that security concerns precluded the government allowing a large, quick influx of Middle East refugees into Canada. Speaking in Toronto, Trudeau cited several previous prime ministers, including his own father, who did not let such concerns stop them from bringing large numbers of refugees from Europe, Africa and Asia to Canada. Trudeau also talked up a pledge to let Canadians dip into their registered retirement savings more than once to pay for a home in various circumstances, including after a divorce or a work-related move.

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Harper was being asked a refugee question at his campaign stop in Welland, Ont., when a Conservative supporter heckled the reporter. He urged the journalist to proceed and then repeated his contention that security concerns must be front and centre in any haven Canada extends from what he called a "terrorist war zone." Harper also spoke of the economy in a controlled question-and-answer session with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. He criticized Trudeau's plans to enhance employment insurance.

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A reporter tried to question Mulcair on the Syrian crisis in Niagara Falls, Ont., but his staff ended the media conference before he could answer. Mulcair did defend a top aide, who tweeted highly offensive comments about Roman Catholics. Mulcair said his communications director, Shawn Dearn, had apologized sincerely for the two-year-old tweets and said he had no intention of firing him. Mulcair also said he would balance next year's budget but won't say if he would axe spending commitments to do so.

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Green Leader Elizabeth May predicted the Oct. 19 election will yield a minority government, but said her party's role will be to hold the government to account. The Greens released their entire platform which calls for a national pharmacare program, billions in infrastructure spending and free university tuition. Corporate tax hikes and a restructured tax system would help pay for the promises.

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In Montreal, Gilles Duceppe accused Canada Post of arrogance in imposing community mailboxes on unwilling residents and closing post office counters in rural areas. He said Canada Post needs to listen to people.

The Canadian Press

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