Familiar faces, different race
Though several of the faces in this year’s election campaign are familiar to Kamloops voters, the candidates say they they and the riding have changed since the 2008 campaign.
NDP candidate Michael Crawford said he is already getting a sense the Conservative minority government has run its course.
He suggested after five years of power, voters are having trust issues with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his party.
The Conservative government was taken down in a non-confidence vote in which the opposition parties found it in contempt of Parliament.
Crawford said health-care funding is on the minds of voters in this election.
“Kamloops is a bit of a hot spot for people’s discontent with health care,” he said.
The is the third time Crawford has carried the orange flag for the NDP in the riding, finishing second in successive federal elections in 2006 and 2008.
He believes he brings a certain amount of familiarity to the campaign and maintains voters appreciate his persistence in running for MP.
Green candidate Donovan Cavers said he feels more comfortable in his second run for the job as MP, adding he knows how to pace himself during a gruelling campaign.
However, he argued there is little difference between the job Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod has done in the riding compared to her predecessor, Betty Hinton.
“I think Cathy [McLeod] has kept steady on what Betty [Hinton] had been doing before her,” he said, noting there hasn’t been much new on the issue of climate change.
Even the riding’s first-time candidates feel there is a difference between today and 2008.
Liberal candidate Murray Todd, who was the former president of the local Liberal riding association, echoed Crawford’s remarks, noting the election is a direct result of the Conservatives being found in contempt of Parliament.
“We’re dealing with a whole different set of issues this time around,” he said, adding the Tories have more of a track record to defend now than they did in 2008.
As for his party, Todd said the Grits have a “dynamic” leader in Michael Ignatieff, who Todd said effectively campaigns across the country.
Christian Heritage candidate Chris Kempling sees his party’s entrance into the race as different from 2008.
With a new party in the local mix comes new policy debates.
Kempling, who moved to Kamloops in 2008, said his party wants to eliminate personal income tax and decrease the size of government.
“We don’t believe the Conservatives are all that conservative and we want to provide a conservative option,” he said.
As for the incumbent MP, McLeod also sees differences in the riding compared to 2008 — but for the better.
She noted the country and region went through a recession — one she said hit rural areas of the riding harder than Kamloops.
However, McLeod said, there is renewed optimism, as is evident by new forestry mills opening up in the riding.
McLeod said she has a better understanding of the issues and challenges in the region after serving in Ottawa for the last couple of years.