VANCOUVER, B.C. - B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell and NDP Leader Carole James spending Mother's Day in vote-rich Metro Vancouver Sunday courting ethnic voters as they headed toward's Tuesday's provincial election.
Campbell handed out carnations to mums having dim sum with their families at a Chinese restaurant in the NDP's east Vancouver stronghold and James bought good luck incense at a shop in multicultural Surrey.
At one point, Liberal and New Democrat candidates crossed paths at an Indo-Canadian bazaar in Delta.
"I welcomed him to NDP country," said Surrey NDP MLA Sue Hammell, who shook Campbell's hand as he moved through the crowded market as Indian music blared from a nearby stage.
Campbell said his government is building economic, educational and social ties with India, opening trade offices and doubling its lumber exports there.
He received an effusive welcome from the bazaar's master of ceremonies as he took the stage.
"He's a businessman. He runs this province so nicely," said the host between blasts of a cheesy-sounding organ.
Minutes after Campbell left the stage, Hamell climbed on and addressed the same crowd with similar fanfare.
"Let's raise that minimum wage, fix our hospitals and look after our education system," she said. "That's our NDP government coming to you."
Campbell said he felt confident of winning a third consecutive mandate for the Liberals, if they can get their vote out.
Recent polls have the incumbents with anywhere from a nine point lead over the New Democrats to a tight-wire horse race that's too close to call.
"I read into the polls that if we get everyone to vote we should do relatively well," he said.
"But you know one of the worst things is when you see polls that suggest things are going to be all right and then people decide they don't have to vote."
Electoral redistribution has added six new seats, for a total of 85. When the election was called, there were 42 Liberals, 34 New Democrats and three vacant seats.
James said she is counting on the ethnic vote.
"It's very important that we reach out to all British Columbians, including those from immigrant community," she said, citing her party's work on several issues important to new Canadians, such as recognizing foreign professional credentials.
The New Democrats hold four of seven Surrey ridings, with the growing city getting an additional seat this time under redistribution.
They also have three members in east Vancouver, where Campbell was joined by prominent Chinese-Canadian business leaders as he attacked the NDP platform's apparent lack of attention to Asian trade.
"I'd invite you to go through the entire New Democrat platform, you won't see China mentioned once," he said. "You won't see the emerging economies of Korea mentioned once, or India mentioned once."
British Columbia is Canada's Asia-Pacific gateway, Campbell said. It should be building on the connections its Chinese community have with their home country.
"When we actually went to China they said it was a waste of time," Campbell said of the New Democrats.
He said the Liberal government has increased trade, citing jumps in lumber exports to Asia at a time when sales to British Columbia's chief market in the United States have dropped.
"Absolutely ridiculous," said James.
She said her party has supported developing British Columbia's economic ties with China. It even sponsored a film crew to tour the province's agricultural areas.
"So not only have we done work, we've done work in opposition," she said. "We didn't wait for government, we made sure we were reaching out to the Chinese market."
James helped serve up pancakes and sausages at a Mother's Day brunch, where she met up with 3 1/2-year-old Ziyan. The youngster, dressed up as Superman, bestowed some of his super powers on her and started the crowd chanting "NDP, NDP."
The Liberals focused Sunday on the NDP platform, which they attacked as costly and impractical.
They continued to hammer the New Democrats for promising to scrap the unpopular carbon tax. Former NDP premier Mike Harcourt joined a growing list of prominent people endorsing the tax on fossil fuels the Liberals put in place last year.
James accused Campbell of fear mongering.
"It's very clear that Gordon Campbell doesn't want people to look at his record," she said.
The New Democrats have accused the Liberal government's performance on social issues such as health care, education and addressing homelessness.