Saturday, September 18, 2021

September 15 2021

The fight for every last vote

With a close race continuing into the final week of the federal election campaign, the battle is heating up – and getting more personal in some cases.

Although solid predictions can’t be made based on polls (which typically look at popular opinion and not directly seat counts) at this point, they do show a very tight race, with support between the Liberals and Conservatives often close to a statistical tie. In recent days, the Liberals are a little ahead, but the difference is sometimes within the margin of error.

Of course, the parties have their internal polling, and those numbers, not publicly available, will shape much of what we see in these final days. They’ll inform the issues leaders choose to emphasize, where they go and the attacks they make.

The Conservatives have ramped up personal attacks on Justin Trudeau this week, digging in on labelling him as an elite and out of touch with the experiences of most Canadians. Meanwhile, the Liberals are in full attack mode on the anti-vax movement and often link it to the Conservative Party.

Nastiness isn’t really NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s style, so we see less of it there, even in the homestretch. But Singh is having a fairly good campaign, especially when it comes to his personal popularity. In a recent CBC Vote Compass online survey of 300,000, Singh was identified as “the most trustworthy and competent federal party leader on offer right now.”

Singh’s challenge is to translate that personal popularity into party support at the ballot box and increase the NDP’s previous 24 seats.

The close federal race translating into close local races is a possibility. The extent to which this happens in Central Nova is very dependent on the national success of the Tories, as Liberal incumbent Sean Fraser remains very popular and the Conservative challenger is not as well known, entered the race late and has already had to apologize for offensive social media posts.

Cape Breton-Canso, although a fairly safe Liberal seat in recent history – could see a closer race. In 2019, Conservative Alfie MacLeod erased a deficit of about 24,000 votes to come within around 2,000 of winner Mike Kelloway for the Liberals.

In our part of this vast riding, Kelloway has been highly visible and active as MP since then. The Conservative and NDP candidates are lesser known here, but they had their say in a recent debate in our area hosted by the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce.

In the Sept. 10 debate, which we report on in this week’s paper, Kelloway – as incumbent with the governing Liberals – naturally had to play some defense, facing criticism from both the NDP and Conservative candidates and defending the government’s record over the past six years. Conservative Fiona MacLeod had concrete policy plans at the ready and clearly articulated the Conservative Party platform. NDP candidate Jana Lynn Reddick – a 29-year-old political newcomer – managed to hold the incumbent’s feet to the fire on several issues and came out strong on social and environmental justice issues.

All candidates are to be commended for stepping up to put their name on the ballot. It’s much easier to sit back and criticize.

The focus now, locally and federally, is getting out the vote. Every vote counts. Every voice counts. If you haven’t been to the advance polls, please get out on election day next Monday, Sept. 20, and have your say. It matters.