There isn't just a blue door and a red door.
That was seemingly the message Justin Trudeau delivered at an event in Montreal Tuesday when asked if he will invoke a strategy used by past Liberal leaders — namely, warning that a ballot cast for the New Democrats is actually a vote for Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
With polls now suggesting Liberals are in second place (or even first) in voting intentions, a reporter inquired in French if Trudeau would try the same tactic as Oct. 19 creeps closer.
According to a translation, Trudeau said "Canadians have all possible choices in front of them" on voting day in two weeks. The Liberal leader said he wants voters to have a hard look at each party's platform.
"I trust fully that Canadians are fed up voting against the choices that they don't like and would rather choose to vote for a positive option," he said.
The remark contrasts with former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who kicked off the 2011 election campaign by ruling out a coalition with the NDP. He told Canadians they could either go through a blue door or a red door.
"There are two choices in the next election," Ignatieff said at the time.
That was the same message Ignatieff took into the English-language leaders' debate.
"I've made it clear the alternative to a Harper government is a Liberal government composed of Liberal members of Parliament bringing in a budget basted on the Liberal platform," he said.
The remark sparked a sharp rebuke from then-NDP leader Jack Layton.
"Well Mr. Ignatieff, there you go saying the only alternative to Canadians is your party," said Layton. "That's the kind of arrogant, self-aggrandizement that we're so used to from the Liberals. And really it's the least attractive aspect of your party.
"Fact is, here in Canada, Canadians decide who is going to be prime minister. Not you. And not your party."
"Jack, I respect the voters too much to presume anything else," Igantieff shot back.
Ignatieff ended up leading the Liberals to their worst showing, Layton became leader of the Official Opposition, and Harper captured his long-coveted majority government.
Like Ignatieff, Trudeau has ruled out forming a coalition with the NDP.
New Democrats say they're 'closer than ever'
However, the threat of vote splitting helping Harper win re-election is a major concern for progressives and others thirsty for change.
Vancouver-based advocacy group LeadNow released polling information to assist those voting "Anybody But Conservative" in 31 ridings Tories could be at risk of losing. Websites like Strategic Voting 2015 also provide information for those thinking of voting strategically to oust Conservatives.
But Huffington Post Canada contributor Bryan Breguet — who wrote a complete guide to strategic voting for this election — warns the strategy is uncertain.
"Not only do you need to know the current voting intentions in your riding… it also requires many other people to do the same thing as you," he wrote. "The latter part requires a level of coordination that makes the effectiveness of strategic voting doubtful."
Vote splitting could realistically help Tories win as many as 28 seats from New Democrats and Liberals, Breguet projects.
On Facebook Tuesday, the NDP released a graphic suggesting they have an easier path to victory than Trudeau's Liberals.
"The NDP only needs 35 more seats to form a government. The Liberals need 100," the post reads.
Though the graphic makes it seem like the NDP has 103 incumbents — the number of MPs the party elected in 2011 — the party actually held 95 seats at the time of dissolution.
And, right now, 338 seats are up for grabs.
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