Kamloops This Week
Jobs, jobs and jobs.
The three nominated candidates who will vie to represent the riding of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in three months all say jobs and the economy will be the No. 1 issue when Canadians go to the polls in little more than three months.
One of those candidates — Conservative incumbent Cathy McLeod — identified all three of her top issues as related to the economy: jobs, balanced government budgets and federal transfers to Canadians for items like child care and seniors’ benefits.
While the writ for the Oct. 19 federal election isn’t expected to be dropped until mid-September, unofficial campaigns for the big three parties are well underway.
“We’re doing something every day,” said Liberal candidate Steve Powrie, who is hoping to turn the party’s fortunes behind leader Justin Trudeau. Four years ago, Liberal candidate Murray Todd picked up only five per cent of the vote — within a few votes of the Green party.
Powrie said in an age of Facebook and Twitter, he is not ignoring the traditional door-knocking.
“That one-to-one engagement is really important. You’ve got social media and computer lists, but people often want a minute-and-a-half to say hi. Sometimes it’s issues and sometimes it’s just meeting them and you’re off to the next place.”
While those who favour electoral reform complain MPs often go to Ottawa to represent the riding with only 30 or 40 per cent support, McLeod crushed the opposition in 2011 with about 52 per cent of the vote. New Democrat Michael Crawford was a distant second with 39 per cent.
Today, the NDP is riding high on its unlikely and historic victory in Alberta. National polls place the party at the top with about 32 per cent nationally. Trailing closely are the Conservatives and Liberals. All three parties are within five per cent.
In Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, one national projection by CBC contributor Eric Grenier, who maintains a poll-tracking website, has the New Democrats and candidate Bill Sundhu winning the election — at a 75 per cent probability — if the election were held at the end of June.
“I don’t pay much attention to polls. They go up and down,” said Sundhu, a city lawyer.
“But, there appears to be a groundswell for change that the NDP has picked up across the country, particularly after the Alberta election.”
Like Powrie, Sundhu is door-knocking and meeting with small groups as he builds support for his first political campaign.
“Jobs and the economy is always at the top of the list,” he said of voter concerns.
While only three candidates are nominated so far, the Green party is soon to be represented in this riding. Matt Greenwood ran for the Greens in 2006 when he was a student in political science and economics at TRU.
Nine years later, he is a staff member at ASK Wellness and will again represent the party.
“I think the Green party has important positions to get out. I want to make sure they don’t get lost in the mix.”
While McLeod is an incumbent with two victories under her belt, she has some restrictions in campaigning early.
“I do some door-knocking in the evenings. But, to a degree people expect me to do my role as MP.”
McLeod arranged for her highway MP sign to come down well before the writ is dropped in September, required by election rules.
Taking that action, however, also feeds speculation the Tories may make an early election call and extend the campaign period, while the Oct. 19 fixed election date would remain the same.
The longer campaign period allows the party, flush with cash, to spend more than the Liberals and NDP.