With his wife Laureen at his side, Stephen Harper paid a visit to the Governor General at Rideau Hall on Sunday morning, kicking off the country’s 42nd federal election.

"I will be asking Canadians for their support to deliver sound economic management, and to take the difficult decisions necessary to protect our country's security,” said Harper afterwards.

Unofficially the campaign has been underway for a long time.

"We've been doing it for a couple of months,” said Liberal candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette as he campaigned in Winnipeg Centre Saturday. “Just slowly building up capacity. Training the volunteers. Making sure we're training the team leaders."

The 78-day campaign makes this the longest election in modern Canadian history.

Winnipeg South Centre NDP candidate Matt Henderson says people he has met are engaged in the campaign.

"I've found that people are well-read,” said Henderson. “There are discussions happening at coffee shops, there are discussions happening at pubs, that are focused on this election and people have been looking to October 19 as this focal point."

Former city councillor Terry Duguid won the Liberal nomination in Winnipeg South more than a year ago and has been using that time to meet voters and assemble a team.

"We've knocked on just about every single door in the riding,” said Duguid. “I've got a great group of volunteers who have been putting signs together. They've been calling voters, they've been knocking on doors."

Duguid’s Conservative rival Gordon Giesbrecht has a campaign headquarters set up on Pembina Highway but he could not be reached for comment on day one of the campaign.

In Kildonan-St. Paul, a riding the Conservatives have won in four straight elections, New Democrat Suzanne Hrynyk hopes to turn the tide.

“We’ve been working on our campaign in Kildonan-St. Paul now already for the past few months,” she said. “Actually we’ve actually been working on it for the last few years with fundraising breakfasts, those kind of events.”

Canadians head to the polls on October 19.