By Cam Fortems
Kamloops This Week
It started earlier and will last longer, but the three men and one woman running to represent Kamloops in the Oct. 19 federal election say the dynamics of the local campaign will change little despite the early call by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday.
“We’ve been prepared throughout, including for a spring election,” said New Democrat candidate Bill Sundhu, who hopes to capture local support reflected in polls suggesting the NDP has its first real shot at forming at least a minority government.
“I can immediately go in campaign mode,” Sundhu said.
Both Sundhu and incumbent Conservative MP Cathy McLeod moved into campaign offices over the weekend that will be opened immediately.
“Our campaign has already started,” McLeod said. “Our team is ready to get going.”
McLeod has overseen a raft of spending announcements this month as speculation mounted the writ would be dropped on Sunday, creating an 11-week campaign period.
“I see it as more gamesmanship,” said Liberal candidate Steve Powrie, an elementary and university teacher .
“It’s just more opportunity to use their [Conservatives] huge war chest to push out their rhetoric for a longer time.”
Green candidate Matt Greenwood said the longer election campaign period will not fundamentally change his campaign. He works part-time at ASK Wellness and has some flexibility to change his hours to suit the campaign.
But, he added, the election is extended because the Conservatives’ recent legislation allows spending to be increased along with the longer pre-election period.
“With the Fair Elections Act they’ve pro-rated it [spending]. With a campaign twice as long, you can spend twice as much,” Greenwood said.
“It’s a fairly cheap move — no pun intended.”
But, McLeod said, critics ignore the fact that along with the official election period comes rules about spending, including for third parties.
“We haven’t looked at our [campaign] budget with the longer writ,” she said. “It puts every party on the same playing field.”
Sundhu, a lawyer, said he started reducing his caseload last year in preparation for the election.
He has one legal file yet to complete, but considers himself in full-time campaign mode.