Christmas election campaign looming

With the possibility of an federal election looming on the horizon, candidates for Thunder Bay-Rainy River differ in their opinions on what local voters really want.
“People are furious with the Opposition parties for even talking about it,” Liberal MP Ken Boshcoff said, adding he and his party are eager to focus on governing.
“I’m not getting any kind of feedback like that from people at all. I think people are anxious to stop this whole circus in Ottawa,” countered David Leskowski, who once again will seek the Conservative nomination for the riding.
“I think people are anxious for an election,” agreed local NDP candidate John Rafferty. “Anger over Gomery is still there, and it should be, and I think people are quite happy to go to the polls.”
Both Leskowski and Rafferty ran against Boshcoff in the June, 2004 election.
Though none of the candidates want an election campaign over the Christmas season, Leskowski said he would prefer to have an election sooner rather than later.
“Right now I don’t think it’s appropriate that [Prime Minister Paul Martin] campaign on taxpayers’ dollars for two months and then call an election,” he said.
“I have to say, really, they’re not governing. They’re on a vote-buying spree right now. They’re promising to do things in the next 60 days that they’ve been unwilling to do for the last 12 years,” he argued, referring to the mini-budget released by Finance minister Ralph Goodale on Monday.
In contrast, Boshcoff said what he’s hearing from constituents is that they would rather wait for the government to call an election 30 days after the Feb. 1 release of the final Gomery report, as the Prime Minister promised last spring.
“We have on our plate many issues of significance for our future, including the pending forestry package,” Boshcoff said in a press release issued last week.
“Everyone I meet tells me they want me to keep doing my job to address issues of vital importance.”
Rafferty dismissed the argument, saying the compromise suggested by the NDP and the other two Opposition parties—to call an election in the first week of January for a February vote—would allow the government to pass the legislation it has on the table and avoid a Christmas campaign at the same time.
“A lot of people I talk to are upset that Mr. Martin isn’t interested in this compromise,” Rafferty said. “Mr. Martin is not interested in the compromise because he’s interested in having a long Liberal pre-election campaign on taxpayers’ money.
“I hope the people of Northwestern Ontario see the Liberal arrogance in all this,” he added.
Since October, 2004, there have been 43 votes of non-confidence in the House of Commons.
“Opposition talk of defeating the government every second week has pushed Canadians to the limits of frustration,” said Boshcoff. “The Opposition just doesn’t get it—Canadians do not want a Christmas election.”
“I would prefer after a non-confidence vote Paul Martin would commence the election after the Christmas season, which I think is in his capacity to do,” Leskowski noted.
The Conservatives could put forward a motion as early as next Tuesday to defeat the government, triggering an election Jan. 2.
An federal election must be held on a non-holiday Monday after a campaign of at least 36 days.