Election 2015: Waters: Long campaign (thankfully) enters the home stretch

Expect all sides to finish up swinging as federal vote goes down to the wire.

It’s time to turn up the heat in the federal election campaign as the race to form the next government comes down to the wire.

At least that’s what the national party leaders are doing based on their latest round of last-minute ads and campaign strategies.

With less than a week to go in a close race that has seen the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP all jockey for top spot at some point since the writ was dropped back in August, it’s a given the leaders will now turn to every trick they have in order to win support.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper, in a new form of campaign countdown, is taking to the radio airwaves daily to have a friendly little chat with Canadians and remind them he wants their support. In a-proof-of-life type move, he also reminds them what day it is and how many days are left in the campaign.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau continues to deflect Harper’s “he’s-just-not-ready” mantra by saying what he’s not ready for is another Harper-led government.

And the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, whose party once led the polls in this campaign, is also preaching change—and inviting voters to come along for the ride. He says he’s ready if Canadians are.

On the face of it, it all seems quite civil. But dig a little deeper and it gets dirtier. After all, civility doesn’t win elections, at least not at the national level.

The “popular” vote has become just that—a measure of popularity, particularly in the party leaders. It’s not quite the style-over-substance race we have seen to the south of us in the U.S. for many years—but it’s close.

Lying about other party leaders’ positions on issues, misrepresenting what they would do, personal attacks—it’s how the game of politics is played now.

Politics has been called a dirty game and in Canada, we are seeing it get grimier with each election.

Locally, however, it’s a different matter.

With the rare exception of a few minor outbursts at the odd public meeting here and there, the local campaigns have been much more respectful affairs with the candidates talking about issues rather than each other.

And the strong campaigns are a direct result of having, for the first time in a long time, a full slate of strong candidates. (With the exception of the Green Party in Kelowna-Lake Country where, despite nominating a candidate, the party never actually had one willing to campaign. Gary Adams was already planning to quit and support the Liberal in the race even as the votes for his own nomination were being counted.)

While history is on the side of the Conservatives in both Kelowna-Lake Country and Central Okanagan-Similkamen-Nicola, unlike the last election where their challengers were not as strong, Tories Ron Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country) and Dan Albas (Central-Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola) can’t take anything for granted this time around.

An upset is unlikely, but not impossible. They know it and so do their challengers, Liberal Stephen Fuhr and the NDP’s Norah Bowman in Kelowna-Lake Country and Liberal Karley Scott, the NDP’s Angelique Wood and Green Robert Mellalieu in Central-Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

But the key to any election is the vote. And this time round, if advance poll numbers across the province are any indication, B.C. wants to be heard.

On the weekend, voters at advance polls in Vancouver and West Kelowna [see letter page A7] stood in line for several hours to cast their ballots—something unheard of at advance polls in previous elections.

So, next Monday, make your voice heard. Vote.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.