Federal election officially underway 

Canadians head to the polls on October 19

click to enlarge PHOTOS SUBMITTED - The Candidates Liberal Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, incumbent Conservative John Weston, Green Ken Melamed and New Democrat Larry Koopman (left to right).
  • Photos submitted
  • The Candidates Liberal Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, incumbent Conservative John Weston, Green Ken Melamed and New Democrat Larry Koopman (left to right).

The writ has dropped, and Canada has officially begun the second longest federal election campaign in its history.

Canadians will go to the polls on Monday, October 19.

"I'm raring to go, and I'm glad the contest has begun," said John Weston, Conservative MP for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding.

"Like any athlete or entrepreneur, I'm keen to get the contest going, and my opponents have been campaigning now for a long time. I've just been serving the constituents as an MP, and it's great to even the playing fields.

"I'm looking forward to getting out there and campaigning as well."

Weston is no stranger to the campaign trail. He was first elected in 2008, and retained his seat in the 2011 federal election.

The experience should serve him well in what polls indicate could be a tight race.

"The only poll that matters is the one on October 19, and I'll be focusing on the messages and the things that constituents want to hear," Weston said.

"I'll do my best to meet with them and speak to them and hear from them, and I'll let the constituents make the ultimate decision."

A day after the writ dropped on August 2, a new national poll from Forum Research showed the federal NDP with a double-digit lead over the Conservatives.

Larry Koopman will represent the party in the Sea to Sky riding.

"I know the Conservatives are afraid to say the 'R' word, but we are heading into a mild recession here, and we've been fooled by this government in them saying that they are the protectors of our economy, and know how to manage," Koopman said.

"I don't think that's quite true."

According to Statistics Canada, the country's gross domestic product shrank 0.2 per cent in May, marking the fifth straight month of contraction.

A recession is when a country's GDP shrinks in two successive quarters.

"They've never had a balanced budget, and it looks like they may not even get a balanced budget this time," Koopman said.

"There's not enough diversification in our economy. We've been relying on fossil fuel extraction as the driver of our economy, and so when prices of oil goes down, our economy goes into the dumps, and it shouldn't be that way. We need to go to a diversified economy."

The hope for the Liberals — who are currently polling in third place nationally but were leading in the riding as recently as last month — is that former West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones can deliver them the riding.

Goldsmith-Jones and her team have been door knocking and holding events for months.

"What I hear in our riding is people are ready for change," she said.

"They want strong representation on protecting our environment, and they want a government that recognizes the spending power of the middle-income earners and that that's what it's going to take to restore health to our economy.

"We achieve those things through fair and open government, which is precisely my track record and experience leading in the riding and the region."

While the Conservative party is notorious for its use of partisan attack ads, Goldsmith-Jones said she doesn't expect to see that kind of vitriol in the Sea to Sky this year.

"You can't get a positive out of a negative, and our riding is frankly above that," she said. "I meet with so much open mindedness, and genuine interest in this election campaign, I think people deserve the kind of respect that comes from being positive and open."

Rounding out the riding's candidates is former Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed, who hopes to help the Greens achieve official party status in the election.

While a longer election favours the deep pockets of the Conservatives, it could also work to the advantage of the Greens, Melamed said.

"It gives us more time to get our message out... we don't get the coverage that the mainstream parties get, and now maybe more Canadians will be ready to talk about the election," he said.

"We've been canvassing for several months now, and an astonishing number of people just didn't have any idea there was an election coming up. Now it will be on peoples' minds, and we think that's good for us."

While there has been talk from the Green camp of the party potentially holding a balance of power should a minority government be in the cards, Melamed shied away from the "kingmaker" label.

"I wouldn't call us kingmakers. I would call us negotiators, and a party that wants to represent Canadian voices," he said.

"Our party mantra is to put people before party and power. The other parties are so interested, so invested in getting into government, getting into power, that they have left Canadians' issues behind."

The broad issues are the same for all four candidates — jobs, the economy and the environment. Where their focuses are diverted over the next 11 weeks remains up to the constituents.

"This is an opportunity for us to really explore the riding we want, the community we want, the country we want — we'll do it with real fervour and I'm looking forward to it," Weston said.

Pique wants to hear from you. What are the issues that most concern you ahead of the election? What questions should we be asking our candidates? Email your thoughts and suggestions to Braden Dupuis at bdupuis@piquenewsmagazine.com or Clare Ogilvie at edit@piquenewsmagazine.com.

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