The federal election campaign is officially underway after the election writ was issued on Wednesday morning, sending Manitobans back into an election period fresh off the heels of Tuesday’s provincial vote.
Candidates in Brandon-Souris say they are ready to hit the ground running over the next 39 days and continue with the pre-election work they’ve been doing all summer.
Conservative incumbent candidate Larry Maguire will face off against a slew of challengers. Maguire said he has been preparing all summer, visiting the different communities across southwestern Manitoba.
This election is specifically about trust and affordability, Maguire said.
"Affordability is the big issue here — who do you trust to put more money in your pocket? … The government has not spent wisely, so we’ve got make sure we have a government that is managing and accountable for taxpayers’ dollars."
The campaign has been door-knocking since February, Maguire said, and staying in touch with people in both the urban and rural parts of the riding.
"We spend a bit of every day in both locations, that’s always been my strategy, and we’ll continue to do that and just to hear what’s on people’s minds," he said.
People’s Party of Canada Brandon-Souris candidate Rob Lussier said he has been out talking to people all summer and is feeling good about the start of the official campaign period. Lussier is the first People’s Party candidate to run in the riding.
"I’ve been out and about throughout the riding over the summer talking to lots and lots of people, and we’re looking pretty popular," Lussier said. "A lot of people are not very happy with our current member of Parliament … so a lot of support. We’re getting donations, sign orders, it’s been pretty good."
The goal is to spread the party’s message and platform. Lowering taxes will be a key priority for the party, including eliminating the carbon tax and the capital gains tax. Firearms right have also been a big topic, Lussier said, and the party would look to repeal Bill C-71 if elected.
"A lot of people are just drowning in taxes," he said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, neither the Liberals nor the federal NDP had nominated candidates to run in Brandon-Souris, something Lussier said he is disappointed in.
"We don’t have Liberal or an NDP candidate running in Brandon Souris, which is very, very disappointing because those people that lean Liberal or NDP don’t have a voice. They don’t get a choice," he said.
"It’s absolutely unfair and that’s just a failure of leadership of both the Liberals and the NDP."
Bob Brigden, the Liberal party’s riding association chair for Brandon-Souris, said there will be a Liberal candidate running in the riding but said the party is still looking for someone to carry the banner. Michelle Budiwski sought the nomination over the summer but was rejected last week by the party’s green-light committee.
The Brandon-Souris NDP riding association could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Bill Tiessen, the Green candidate in Brandon-Souris, said he is looking to capitalize off the party’s positive momentum from the provincial election during the federal campaign. In the provincial constituency of Turtle Mountain, Green candidate David Neufeld came in second place, behind Progressive Conservative candidate Doyle Piwniuk.
"We’re just going to be as visible as possible, signing the highways and byways as much as we can, doing some door-knocking, spending a fair bit of time in the coffee shops in the rural areas as well as in Brandon. … It’s just trying to be visible to the community," Tiessen said.
Tiessen said he hopes to see a higher voter turnout federally than in the provincial campaign, which was a near record-low at just over 55 per cent.
"I’m confident that people are engaged and interested. We’re going to try to get more young people involved. I think that’s a good chunk of where the Greens can grow their vote and also convince some disaffected Liberals, Conservatives and NDP that there is another way," he said.
Brandon-Souris also has a Christian Heritage Party candidate, Rebecca Hein, who says she’s excited to get her campaign underway and honoured to be running in the riding. She said the top issue on voters’ minds is health care, along with youth access to drugs and community safety.
Canadians go to the polls on Oct. 21.
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