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Federal election campaign begins: Fast to defend riding

“Conservative stronghold” is a term that has often been used to describe the Abbotsford riding during federal elections, but don’t tell that to incumbent MP Ed Fast.

“I’ve never considered Abbotsford a safe seat,” he told the News on Friday afternoon, as he prepared to leave Ottawa and begin an election campaign in his riding.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative minority was brought down by opposition parties on a “motion of contempt” of Parliament, which passed 156-145 Friday morning.

“I’ve got a campaign meeting tomorrow in Abbotsford, and we’re going to be ready to go,” said Fast, adding that he faces two qualified opponents in Liberal candidate Madeleine Hardin and the NDP’s David Murray. Hardin won the Liberal nomination on Wednesday evening (see story page 13).

Fast said the government fell purely because of politics.

“The only reason is because the opposition feels it can form a coalition government,” he said.

He added that the public doesn’t want an election, it will be expensive (estimated at $300 million) and it puts the country’s economic recovery at risk.

“I’ve been in Parliament five years now, and I don’t think I’ve seen something as irresponsible as I did today.”

Murray said the NDP would have liked to broker a budget deal with the government, as it did with Paul Martin’s Liberal government in 2005.

“We were really trying to make Parliament work,” he said.

He doesn’t see the issue of “who caused the election,” as being of great concern to voters.

Murray has been campaigning in Abbotsford for the past 18 months, knocking on doors and listening to people’s concerns, ranging from the cost of living in Abbotsford to the HST.

He knows Ed Fast has a big lead on the other candidates. In the 2008 election, Fast had 63.3 per cent of the vote, compared to the Liberal 16.3, NDP 13.2 and the Green Party 6.4 per cent.

But Murray said the NDP appears to be cutting that lead. As families move from more urban ridings to the affordable housing of the Fraser Valley, the Conservative support in Abbotsford becomes more diluted.

“A lot of those people have voted NDP in the past. There’s an orange wave in the Fraser Valley,” Murray maintained.

He has also used the Internet as a tool to get his message out, and said he is one of the country’s most popular federal candidates in social media, recently surpassing the likes of Justin Trudeau and Bob Rae.

“We’ve been able to garner quite a bit of support through social media,” he said. “We’re going to see some significant results for the NDP in this riding.”

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