Finally, the finish line is in sight.
With just under two weeks to go in the federal election campaign, all the parties—and their candidates—are turning up the heat on each other, given the closeness of the race amongst the three major parties at the national level, according to the pollsters.
For the first time in Canadian politics, three parties are running neck and neck as election day nears, with the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP all vying for enough votes in enough ridings to win a majority of seats in parliament and form the next government.
Locally, in a riding that has historically been a Conservative stronghold, both the Liberal and NDP candidates are running strong campaigns in an attempt to unseat the long-time incumbent Tory.
And while up to now the attacks from Liberal Stephen Fuhr and the NDP’s Norah Bowman have been squarely aimed at Conservative leader Stephen Harper rather than his party’s local candidate Ron Cannan, that is beginning to change.
But Cannan is still not the target that Fuhr and Bowman are publicly talking about. They are now going after each other, accusing each other’s party of not being able to defeat the Tories.
So, for Cannan, who has easily fended off election challengers in the past during his nine years as Kelowna-Lake Country MP, the strategy appears to be ‘stick to the script, don’t attack your opponents, extenuate the positive and let the other two slog it out.’
That was clear Monday night when Fuhr attacked Bowman and the NDP during his wrap-up remarks at an all-candidates’ meeting.
Speaking first, Fuhr launched the first slavo.
Passing the microphone to Cannan, the latter ignored comments from the other two, their claims the Conservatives have seen 400,000 jobs wither away in Canada under their watch and their repeated claim the Tories have muzzled scientists and lowered Canada’s image in the rest of the world.
Cannan talked about what has been done locally, the federal money that has, at times, poured into the riding, and his desire to keep it coming.
When he, in turn, passed the microphone to Bowman, she responded to Fuhr’s attack, leaving Cannan unscathed.
Earlier in the day, the Conservative candidate skipped a radio debate with Fuhr and Bowman in favour of talking to kids at a local private school.
Cannan, now a political veteran, knows his audience and he knows his riding. And while it has changed in terms of demographics a bit over the last four years, he is still quick to point out that there are plenty of seniors here. Typically, people get more conservative in their views as they get older. Seniors also tend to vote in larger numbers. So Cannan sees them as his people.
The local Conservative strategy seems to be ‘keep your head down and don’t engage, that way you can’t screw up the good thing you’ve had going all these years.’
It’s not impossible for a Liberal or NDPer to knock off a Conservative here, but it will be hard, very hard.
Fuhr and Bowman know that, so they may want to change their aim as they head down the home stretch in this election.
Alistair Waters is assistant editor of the Capital News.