Local candidates say Canadians will head to the polls on Monday to choose between either a Stephen Harper Conservative majority government, or a coalition government led by NDP leader Jack Layton.
With Layton surging ahead of the sagging Liberal in the polls, it is he, rather than Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who is pegged as the alternative to Harper.
“That is the stark choice that is presented to voters,” said Abbotsford Conservative candidate Ed Fast.
He said Canadians will choose between “a stable Conservative majority government,” that can continue to provide a sound economy to pay for important social programs; or a Layton government that will focus on spending and high taxes “beyond what Canadians can afford.”
“He (Layton) has already promised some $70 billion in spending for programs,” said Fast.
He said the Conservatives have a plan for the economy that will see economic stimulus spending end, and a return to balanced budgets by 2014.
“The other parties have no plan for realizing that.”
Abbotsford NDP candidate David Murray is thinking big. He said he has seen polling projections that put the NDP with as many as 100 to 115 seats.
“We still have an opportunity here to even have an NDP minority government,” Murray said.
His director of communications Scott Fast said it was clear from election advertising that the other parties see Layton on the rise.
“We are a little bit charmed when we watch the hockey games, and all the attack ads are aimed at us. They’re taking us seriously,” said Scott Fast. “We’re in the big leagues now.”
He noted that the Conservatives have spent much of the campaign accusing the opposition parties of getting together with the separatist Bloc Quebecois to form a coalition, but that argument has been taken away as the NDP steals support from the BQ in Quebec.
“There aren’t going to be many Bloc members left – they’re down to about seven seats,” Scott Fast predicted. “National pollsters all see a huge reduction in Bloc seats.”
The local campaign asserts that the NDP is popular because the party knocks on doors, and responds to what people tell them.
“They’re concerned about their pensions, health care, that life is becoming less affordable, the affordability of post secondary education….” said Scott Fast.
“Jack Layton is the most respected leader in Canada, and the leader more people feel good about, as opposed to Ignatieff and Harper.”
Abbotsford Liberal candidate Madeleine Hardin said the recent polls show that people want new leadership.
“Sadly, the attack advertising the Conservatives did on Ignatieff worked,” she said.
Although he holds a seat that is considered safe Conservative territory, incumbent Fast said he is taking nothing for granted in this campaign.
He has told his volunteers,” “If you coast and you boast, you’re toast.”