Canada election: Trudeau fights to retain power in tight race

KONFRONTASI-Canadians are heading to the polls on Monday to vote in a tight race seen as a test to the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Polling stations on the eastern side of the country started opening at 8:30am (11:30GMT).

After winning a strong majority in 2015, Trudeau is hoping for a second term but polling indicates his Liberal Party and Andrew Scheer's Conservatives are neck-and-neck.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) and Bloc Quebecois also saw surges in popularity last week, meaning they could steal seats from the two main parties. 

Canada's Parliament has 338 seats and the party that wins the majority of those seats - 170 or more - forms a majority government and can easily pass legislation. But the polls predict no party will win a majority this election. In that scenario, the parties must team up to form a government and pass legislation.

In the last 40 days, party leaders crisscrossed the country talking to voters, focusing on regions where support could swing in their favour - especially Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. In the final 24 hours, party leaders flocked to Vancouver to make their final pitches. 

Visiting a battleground riding in Vancouver on Sunday, Trudeau told residents to get out and vote.

"It's always important for people to get out and vote. We've got a great democracy and we need to make sure we are participating in it," he said.

Meanwhile, Andrew Scheer told voters: "We want Canadians to send Conservative MPs to Ottawa so we can start the work to undo the damage that Justin Trudeau has caused, to return to balanced budgets, to lower taxes and help Canadians get ahead."

Making three stops in Vancouver on Sunday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told a Canadian Press reporter his party has sent "a really clear message to Canadians that they can choose to vote for hope, that they don't have to fall into the discussion or argument about who is worse for Canada and we are giving Canadians a real option here."