In less than a week, voters will choose their next Member of Parliament, and ultimately, which party will form the next federal government. Candidates in the Glengarry-Prescott-Russell riding have been busy speaking with voters and will continue to get their messages out to the public until election day, September 20.
People’s Party of Canada – Brennan Austring
“I think this election is going to be a shocker,” said People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Brennan Austring.
“What I’m seeing is quite extraordinary.”
Austring said he has spoken with many people who plan to vote PPC. “People want a change.”
The PPC and its leader Maxime Bernier strongly oppose vaccination passports and many other pandemic-related safety measures. Austring said he is not personally against vaccination, but is concerned about the reliability of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Austring said something has to be done about “tyrannical government overreach,” and he is concerned about the divisive tone of the government.
Austring is planning to keep connecting with voters during the final days of the campaign.
“I’ve got some interviews, I’m meeting with some groups, I’m going to be knocking on some doors.”
Free Party/Parti Libre – Marc Bisaillon
Free Party/Parti Libre candidate Marc Bisaillon said people are curious about his party, which is a newcomer this election. The Free Party/Parti Libre is opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine but does not discourage or encourage people’s choices on vaccination.
According to Bisaillon, the Free Party/Parti Libre would increase wildlife and wilderness protection, increase Canada Pension Plan benefits, and address the housing shortage.
Bisaillon said the use of agricultural pesticides should be discontinued and efforts to find an alternative would create jobs.
The candidate has not been going door-to-door because he knows many voters have COVID-19 concerns.
“I speak with people on the street,” Bisaillon said. “I go to businesses.”
Bisaillon said people need more opportunity to give their input to the government.
“I’m serving the people. They have the power.”
Liberal Party of Canada – Francis Drouin
Liberal candidate Francis Drouin has served as the Member of Parliament for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell since 2015. On the campaign trail, he still takes nothing for granted.
“I always campaign like I’m 10,000 votes behind,” Drouin explained.
Drouin said this campaign has been a great opportunity to reconnect with citizens. The incumbent MP said it is important to listen to people and he likes finding out how residents have fared during the pandemic.
“It helps me do my job better because it’s good feedback I’m getting.”
Drouin highlighted Liberal plans to de-carbonize the economy and ease the switch to emission-free vehicles. He said 50 projects in the riding have helped businesses de-carbonize their operations.
Addressing the labour shortage is another issue Drouin has been discussing during the campaign. He said the Liberal childcare plan is part of the solution because it will allow more parents to access affordable childcare.
Drouin said he will always listen to farmers due to the importance of agriculture in the local economy. He noted that in the past, he has opposed some of his own party’s plans on trade and taxation because of how they would have affected farmers.
The Liberal candidate is not planning slow down during the final days of the campaign.
“Knock on doors, knock on doors, and after I’m done, I’ll knock on some more,” Drouin said.
Green – Daniel Lapierre
Green Party candidate Daniel Lapierre said it has been difficult to get his message out to voters during the campaign.
“A lot of people don’t know us,” Lapierre noted.
Lapierre said support for the Greens varies across the riding but environment and climate change issues are the most significant topics he has been discussing with voters.
“Climate change and social equity are very important to me.”
Lapierre said the Liberals have not followed through on their climate change promises. He said the Green Party is based on the environment while the Liberals and Conservatives are based on industry.
New Democratic Party – Konstantine Malakos
Konstantine Malakos was the New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate in 2019, and he said voters are recognizing him more during the 2021 campaign.
“It’s been overwhelmingly positive for me,” Malakos said of the election race.
The NDP candidate is expecting people will be surprised by the results on election day. He believes opinion polls are inaccurate and do not reflect the dynamics of the campaign.
“We are competitive in this riding,” Malakos insisted.
Malakos said visitors have been “non-stop” to his campaign headquarters in Rockland. He said they are asking for signs and saying they are voting NDP for the first time.
To Malakos, connecting with people who feel left behind in society is especially important. He said those people include disabled people and senior citizens who did not meet eligibility requirements for federal pandemic benefit programs, working parents in need of affordable child care, and citizens struggling with housing expenses.
“They deserve to have their basic needs met.”
Conservative- Susan McArthur
Conservative candidate Susan McArthur said voters have been telling her they cannot understand why Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau decided to have an election now. She has noticed a strong, personal dislike of the Prime Minister among voters.
“It’s almost visceral, the dislike of Trudeau,” McArthur said. “He will say anything for a headline or news story, but then he doesn’t follow through.”
The cost of living and the pandemic are two significant issues McArthur has been discussing with voters. She also said people do not want to be divided on issues such as vaccination.
“Clearly, that’s what Trudeau is doing,” the Conservative candidate noted.
McArthur said Erin O’Toole offers an alternative that is disciplined, thoughtful, and competent. She thinks voters want an alternative to Trudeau that is “not flashy.”
The local Conservative campaign has been focusing heavily on directly connecting with voters, and is planning to do so until election day.
“We’re out there knocking on doors,” said McArthur.
She is “cautiously optimistic” about her prospects at the polls on Monday and acknowledged it is a tight race.