BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Behlen Industries vice-president Sean Lepper, left, leads federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Brandon-Souris NDP candidate Cory Szczepanski on a tour of the manufacturing plant during Mulcair’s visit to the Wheat City on Monday afternoon.
It has been an "intense" nine days since Prime Minister Stephen Harper called four federal byelections, including one in Brandon-Souris, according to NDP candidate Cory Szczepanski.
Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair addresses members of the Brandon Sun editorial board during his stop in the city on Monday. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
After touring Behlen Industries, where he works as a welder, with party leader Thomas Mulcair, Szczepanski said corruption is the No. 1 issue he’s hearing on doorsteps throughout the riding.
From the Senate scandal to the local Tory nomination process, Szczepanski said the NDP offers a clear alternative.
"I don’t think it matters which scandal we’re talking about — the senate, robocalls and election fraud or if it’s right here at the grassroots of a nomination process — the Conservative government is not the same government it was yesterday," said Szczepanski, who is also president of the Brandon Labour Council.
In the 2011 election, the NDP captured approximately 25 per cent of the Brandon-Souris vote, finishing a distant second to the Conservatives.
However, a Forum poll conducted earlier this month had the party slipping to just 12 per cent support.
The poll, which reached more than 400 voters, used an automated telephone survey and is accurate to plus or minus five percentage points.
Maybe more alarming for the NDP is that the poll found 54 per cent of respondents who said they voted for Jack Layton’s NDP in the last election are now ready to support Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
Szczepanski said the only polls that matter are on election day and while Trudeau may offer "flash and style," he lacks in "substance."
The poll showed Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale leading the riding with 39 per cent support, ahead of Tory Larry Maguire, who trailed with 35 per cent. Szczepanski and Green candidate David Neufeld were tied with 12 per cent.
Mulcair pointed to Quebec polls in the last federal election that had the NDP way behind only to see them grab 59 of the province’s 75 seats as evidence of how inaccurate polls can sometimes be.
Regardless of its accuracy, the poll must have got their attention as both Szczepanski and Mulcair zeroed in on not just the prime minister, but Trudeau as well.
"Canadians have a choice — they don’t have to alternate between Conservative and Liberal corruption," Mulcair said.
"The NDP ... is offering a clean alternative. We come to this with clean hands, willing to work to make sure Canadians get the government they deserve."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 29, 2013