Cornwall ON – Prime Minister Harper, along with local MP and PMO spokesman for Sport Gary Lunn are taking the threat from Elizabeth May and the Green Party seriously. With an election possible at any time, every riding is important to Harper in his quest for reelection and his effort to hang onto the leadership of the Conservative Party. In an effort to drum up support for Lunn, Harper made a campaign style journey to the riding to announce a $155m project to build helicopter hangers.
Why is Harper targeting this riding in particular? None of the three opposition parties in the House of Commons, despite having a majority of the seats and representing a majority of Canadians, seem able to mount any kind of effective alternative to government policies. The Canadian political leader most able to analyse Harper and his policies and cause embarrassment is Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party. In previous election campaigns, Harper has tried vehemently to keep her out of the televised leaders’ debates.
There is a very real possibility that Elizabeth May will become the MP for Lunn’s Saanich – Gulf Islands riding, which will give her the platform she needs to present Green alternatives to current policies. Although the Conservatives cannot afford to lose any riding, Saanich – Gulf Islands is probably the most critical, for this reason alone.
In Victoria, a little to the south, a mayor’s task force two years ago estimated there were roughly 1500 homeless people in Victoria, costing the taxpayer about $76m annually. Despite the opportunity to use some of the “infrastructure” spending to help alleviate this problem and save taxpayer dollars, little seems to have happened.
Catch 22, a grassroots campaign is targeting a number (originally 22) of marginal Conservative ridings throughout the country, hoping to persuade voters to vote strategically for the local candidate most likely to beat the Conservative incumbent. One of these ridings is Gary Lunn’s Saanich – Gulf Islands.
The group is also setting up to support a number of key opposition MPs who will be Conservative Party special targets in the next election. Among them is Edmonton – Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan, who has been an outstanding environmental critic for the NDP, and who recently brought to light an attempt by the Harper Government to use taxpayer money to target ethnic voters.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who would no doubt benefit personally from strategic voting, is not in favour of the concept, preferring voters to vote for the candidate and the issues. “What I hope is that voters in Saanich–Gulf Islands will take a look at what’s on offer and decide that I’m the best possible representative for their values,” May said in a phone interview with the Straight. If Elizabeth May were to win this riding in the next election, she would likely become an even sharper thorn in Harper’s side, so from Harper’s point of view, this is taxpayer money well-spent.