With less than a week left in the federal election campaign, many area residents remain undecided on who they plan to vote for.
Despite the fact that the Liberals are now trailing in the polls, local Liberal incumbent Marie-France Lalonde remains a heavy favourite to get re-elected to her second term in office.
Lalonde first entered politics in 2014 when she successfully ran to replace Phil McNeely as the local provincial member of parliament. In June 2016, she was appointed to Cabinet as the Minister of Government and Consumer Services and the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs. In January 2017, she was moved to the position of Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
After getting re-elected in June 2018, Lalonde decided to seek the local nomination in the 2019 federal election. She won the seat by more than 21,000 votes, gaining the support of more than 54.27 per cent of eligible ballots.
In March, Lalonde was appointed parliamen-tary secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.
Heading into Monday’s vote, she is hoping that history will keep her safe from an anti-Trudeau vote. The riding has been Liberal federally for 36 out of the past 50 years. The only exceptions are when Jean Piggot held the seat for the Conservatives from 1976-1979; when Barry Turner served from 1986-1988; and when Royal Galipeau held the seat from 2006 to 2015.
The Conservatives have pinned their hopes of winning the seat back on Mary-Elsie Wolfe, the former national director of the Free Methodist Church in Canada and legislative assistant to Conser-vative MP Ted Falk, while NDP candidate Jessica Joanis will try to play the role of spoiler. If the recent University of Ottawa grad manages to pry enough soft Liberal votes from Lalonde, the incumbent could find herself in trouble on election night.
The Green Party will be represented on the ballot by master yachtsman and avid environmentalist Michael Hartnett.
Also appearing on the ballot will be People’s Party of Canada candidate Spencer Oklobdzija. The PPC is lead by former Conservative cabinet minister and leader-ship candidate Maxime Bernier. The party advocates for reducing immigration to 150,000 people per year, scrapping the Multiculturalism Act and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord.
Among the key issues in the federal election campaign are economic recovery, climate change and health care.
Both the Liberals and the Conservatives have promised to one million jobs lost to the pandemic.
Both the Liberals and the NDP want to extend their current wage and rent subsidies. The Liberals say they will do so until “well into the fall”, while the NDP would do so until small businesses are able to “fully reopen”.
The NDP also want to introduce a $15 an hour minimum wage, rising to $20 an hour and indexed to the cost of living.
The Conservatives would create the Canada Job Surge Plan which would pay up to 50 per cent of the salary of new employees for six months following the phasing out of the wage subsidy created by the current Liberal government.
In order to combat climate change the Liberals have pledged to bring national greenhouse gas emissions down to 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade and make Canada a net-zero country by 2050.
The Conservatives want to implement carbon border tariffs on China and other major polluters; increase the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles; introduce a retail loyalty card-like ‘carbon savings account’ for Canadians who purchase fuel; and meet the country’s emissions reduction target under the Paris Accord, which is lower than the Liberal government’s current goal.
The NDP want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and they want to reach net-zero electricity generation by 2050. To that end, the party has vowed to end all federal subsidies for oil, gas and pipeline projects, strengthen environmental protections and retrofit all buildings in Canada by 2050.
On the subject of health care and pandemic preparedness, the NDP have promised to set up a Crown corporation overseeing vaccine production, and esta-blish domestic production of personal protective equipment. The Conservative platform also includes a vow to ramp-up domestic production capacity and research for future vaccines.
The Liberal government announced a $200 million investment in a new vaccine production facility in Mississauga last May. Once built, the plant will be able to produce between 112 and 640 million doses a year. The government is investing in similar production facilities in Montreal and Saskatoon.