By Phil Melnychuk
Will Canadians go to the polls this summer or continue to keep Prime Minister Stephen Harper on probation?
While the Opposition criticizes the government for its corporate tax cuts and threatens to force an election over the issue, MP Randy Kamp says Canadians are not that crazy about the idea.
“I think Canadians don’t want an election.”
The cuts in corporate taxes have already been legislated, “so it’s a bit of a surprise” to see the Liberal party opposing them, he said Wednesday.
Kamp, though, is welcoming both of the NDP contenders who want to take his job.
Elizabeth Rosenau and Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs will be fighting for that party’s nomination March 6.
“I welcome anybody who wants to participate in the political process. I’m commending them for it.”
He described Speirs as an activist and said people can judge whether what Speirs brings to the federal arena is good for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission.
Who will carry the Liberal banner, however, remains to be determined.
Liberal riding association president Brian Rice said conditions have changed in the past year and there’s more willingness to fight an election.
“I think we’re basically done giving [prime minister Stephen] Harper a chance to manage the economy.
“We’re not afraid of an election.”
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has said the cuts to corporate taxes will amount to $6 billion.
For Rice, “I just don’t think this is the best time to be giving the banks and insurance companies a huge gift that we have to borrow to give them.”
Still, there is not yet a Liberal candidate for the riding.
Rice has talked to two people who are thinking about it. He’s intent on finding a local candidate, but it’s not easy.
“Randy’s a tough competitor to run against. He’s a good candidate and he knows how to campaign and we certainly respect his ability.”
Kamp has defeated the previous NDP candidate, Mike Bocking, in three elections — 2004, 2006 and 2008.
Last election’s results for former Liberal candidate Dan Olson aren’t encouraging either. Olson received only 3,394 votes, finishing fourth behind Green party candidate Mike Gildersleeve, who had 3,833.
In past elections, Liberal candidates hovered in the area of 10,000 votes. People get nervous when they see the numbers from the previous election, says Rice.
But he said Liberal leader at the time, Stephane Dion, probably had something to do with that. Olson also basically ran the campaign himself, Rice pointed out. This time, Rice plans to help out.
Olson had been considering running a second time, but dropped out due to illness.
If Green party hopes materialize, however, the Liberals again could finish fourth.
Candidate Peter Tam aims to double the number of votes his party will earn, expecting about 7,000. Currently, Green party membership in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission sits at about 300.
Former candidates Mike Gildersleeve and Robert Hornsey are already helping with Tam’s campaign preparations.
“We plan to create a campaign where the content will be partially created by some of my youth helpers and volunteers,” Tam said. As a result, the language used may be a bit more relevant to youth and, thus, gain their support. Tam has been active in scout and youth arts activities.
As a computer systems consultant, he says he may have an edge over the other candidates in using social media.
He pointed to a recent poll that if only people under 25 years old could vote, the Green party would win a majority in the House of Commons.
While the Conservatives say they don’t want to force an election, the signs say otherwise.
“Everybody can see it — what the Conservatives are doing. All the signs are there. Everybody is gearing up for battle,” said Tam, noting the Conservative attack ads are already airing on TV.
While Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he’s not going to force an election, his party is not consulting other parties on the federal budget that should be presented in March.
“So it’s a clear sign he’s writing a declaration of war.”