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Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam riding roundup: who's ready on day one?

As the 40-day federal election campaign kicks off, The Tri-City News checks in with local candidates in the electoral district of Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam

Canada’s 43rd federal election is underway, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially calling for a general election Oct. 21 and the party leaders spread out across the country.

But here in the riding of Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, campaigning has been going on for months as candidates vie for votes in what some are predicting will be a tight race. And while signs can’t be installed yet in the cities due to municipal rules, campaign managers, volunteers and candidates are finding other ways to get out their message.

“Door-knocking is a huge thing,” said Haley Hodgson, who is helping run the campaign for Liberal incumbent Ron McKinnon, who is seeking his second federal term. She said volunteers have been out daily for months, wearing their red Ron McKinnon t-shirts.

“There’s a lot of excitement now that the election has been called,” Hodgson said.

The Liberal campaign office is 155-2626 Shaughnessy St., Port Coquitlam or call 778-730-0788.

Over at the Conservative Party of Canada offices in Coquitlam, volunteers have been champing at the bit to get on with the campaign, said Kelsey Shein, campaign manager for Nicholas Insley. “Now we can all play by the same rules, we’re ready to go.”

No one is giving away secrets but volunteer recruitment is well underway, with campaign headquarters for all the major parties buzzing with activity.

“We’re touching bases with people and confirming their support,” said Shein, who said volunteers are also phoning to connect with voters.

The Coquitlam-Port Coqutlam Conservative campaign office is located in the CMPNY co-working space, 3007 Glen Drive, Coquitlam, but email ahead at [email protected].

Candidates and volunteers who are door-knocking must also seek access to apartment buildings, usually by contacting management, with election rules giving them the right to travel from floor to floor.

One major goal is to recruit young volunteers who not only have the legs for walking up hilly terrain but who also have the necessary enthusiasm, said Shein, adding that Insley has been reaching out to campus clubs at SFU and Douglas College for support.

Excitement can also reach a fever pitch when a party leader arrives in town and, with Tri-City ridings critical to the national campaign, it’s likely there will be a visit or two from high-profile leaders or candidates.

Today (Wednesday), McKinnon will be heading to Vancouver to participate in a campaign kickoff with leader Trudeau.

For the Green Party, which is polling stronger this election than in 2015, the campaign is a quiet yet still busy affair. Coquitlam-PoCo Green candidate Brad Nickason, who ran previously and unsuccessfully for the party in 2015, said he will be meeting today to discuss campaign strategy with newcomer Bryce Watts, Green candidate for Port Moody-Coquitlam. Nickason will be running his own campaign from home and has already amassed a volunteer list of about 30 people. 

“We still have lots and lots of work to do and we’re not taking anything for granted,” he said. 

Over at NDP headquarters, volunteers are also expected to be busy organizing phone and door-knocking campaigns for Christina Gower, a psychiatric liaison nurse who works at Royal Columbia Hospital.

Gower said a campaign office is being set up, volunteers are working hard and reception on the doorstep is great given riding boundary changes. "It's a new one that needs development but it is amazing," she said, as she made plans to pick up her new lawn signs.

For candidates, as with volunteers, every day is a busy day up to and including Monday, Oct. 21, election day.

And whether it be meeting with voters, putting up signs, working phone banks or organizing door-knocking campaigns, you can bet it will be a busy 40 days for those involved in the federal election campaign in the riding of Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.

The national stage

Justin Trudeau kicked off the 2019 election campaign Wednesday with his party in a dead heat with the Conservatives, each with 33.8% of the vote, according to a CBC online poll tracker that is said to aggregate all publicly available polling data.

At the same time, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh launched his campaign in London, Ont. at a time when the party has slipped below 12.9% support, has had problems raising money and has failed to run a full slate of candidates.

“That’s not the best showing for a major competitive party, especially one that was once talked about as winning in 2015,” said Gerald Baier, a professor of political science at UBC.

Just yesterday, Kamloops NDP candidate Dock Currie was asked to withdraw his candidacy in the Kamloops-Thomson-Cariboo riding after he was said to have made controversial posts on social media to a pipeline supporter.

The Green Party, meanwhile, has managed to hold on to its growing support — the party is currently polling at 10.7% — despite recent controversy surrounding the position of two Green candidates on abortion. And while the party has been able to run candidates across the country, the lack of funding and a robust infrastructure to recruit and vet candidates means the party is relying on many new-to-politics people, says Baier.

The Liberals enter the 40-day campaign with their leader flying directly to Metro Vancouver. For Baier, that’s no surprise. B.C. is shaping up to be one of the key battlegrounds this election.

“We had pretty tight ridings last time around,” said Baier. “All three parties are counting on winning back their seats and stealing others.”

Each of the three major challengers is looking to capitalize on other parties’ missteps: the Conservatives on the Liberal’s track record over SNC Lavelin, pipeline politics, and election reform; the Greens on what they say is the Liberals' failure on climate change and the NDP’s sinking support; and the NDP on the housing and affordability crisis under the Liberals' watch.


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