Federal leaders swung through the Tri-Cities over the long weekend as the election campaign entered its final week, one expected to be marked by visits to key battleground ridings, a ramp up in advertising and volunteers out door-knocking in full force.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a stop in Port Coquitlam on Friday, as part of a whirlwind schedule that brought him from Ottawa through Surrey, PoCo and into Burnaby for an evening rally.
As the Liberal candidate stepped off his campaign bus in front of a Waves Coffee House, he was greeted by Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam Liberal MP Ron McKinnon and Port Moody-Coquitlam Liberal candidate Sara Badiei.
The visit was largely contained to dozens of quick handshakes, quiet side conversations with supporters and a lot of selfies.
As Trudeau left to board his campaign bus en route to Burnaby, a single protestor appeared bearing a sign, which said "PROPAGANDA + GREED = PIPELINES." McKinnon and Badiei both appeared alongside Trudeau at the nighttime rally.
This is not the first time Trudeau has visited the Tri-Cities this year. He showed up with McKinnon in an unannounced visit to Pinetree secondary school — where he used to work as a teacher — in May, and has paid several visits to Badiei’s campaign team.
Badiei has appeared alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a number of recent photos ops, including one at Rocky Point during the B.C. Day long weekend and, on the first day of the campaign, flanking the Liberal leader at the party’s first rally of the campaign in Vancouver-Kingsway.
“When the leader shows up, it shows that the riding matters,” political scientist Stewart Prest told The Tri-City News earlier in the campaign. “It tells [party organizers and voters] ‘We need this, we need all hands on deck.’ It does really make a difference.”
Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, like much of the Lower Mainland Liberal-held ridings, were won over in 2015 as new holds for the party. Last election, McKinnon was elected with less than 2,000 votes.
On the Conservative side, Andrew Scheer also recently visited the riding, using the Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station as a backdrop to announce investments in transportation infrastructure.
Neighbouring Port Moody-Coquitlam is also expected to be a tight race, where NDP candidate Bonita Zarrillo is looking to take over from outgoing NDP MP Fin Donnelly.
In another sign of how important the Tri-City vote will be, on Sunday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visited Zarrillo in his second whistle stop in the riding in little more than two weeks.
The visit came a few days after Singh suggested he would be open to propping up a Liberal government. But the NDP leader walked a finer line Sunday when further pressed on whether the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project would scuttle any cooperation with the Liberals, telling a crowd of supporters he will continue to oppose the pipeline, according to a report by The Canadian Press.
As each party enters the final week of campaigning, the NDP continues to see its fortunes rise at the polls, support jumping from around 11% at the start of the campaign to between 17 and 20% over the last week, according to several opinion polls.
In one weekend survey conducted by Mainstream Research for iPolitics, those who voted at advance voting stations were found to more likely support Liberal or Conservative. But even with their higher turnout both parties remained locked in a statistical tie.