Canada election: Okanagan candidates make last push to get out the vote

Click to play video: 'South Okanagan West-Kootenay riding profile'
South Okanagan West-Kootenay riding profile
The federal riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay will see a rematch between four out of the five candidates. In 2019, the race between the NDP and rival Conservatives was one of the tightest in the country. Political observers say this race will be one of the most interesting to watch in British Columbia. Shelby Thom reports. – Sep 14, 2021

Candidates of all political stripes spread out across the Okanagan Valley today in a last-ditch effort to get out the vote ahead of the 2021 federal election on Monday.

The closest race in the region is projected to be in the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay, where NDP incumbent Richard Cannings narrowly defeated the Conservative challenger, Helena Konanz, by less than 800 votes in 2019.

“I do expect it to be very close and the difference is that it’s a new world, it’s been two years since the last election and so much has happened and I expect that people are wanting to have more representation now more than ever, so I expect that people will be coming out and wanting their voices heard,” Konanz said on Sunday.

Cannings said the difference will be people choosing between a progressive candidate, such as himself, or the Conservatives.

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“I am cautiously optimistic we will come out on top, but it will be a close race and we are working hard.”

In North Okanagan-Shuswap, the riding has a long history of electing right-of-center MPs. Conservative incumbent Mel Arnold is seeking a third term.

He told Global News on Sunday that he’s expecting a strong turnout at the polls.

“We’ve seen the mail-in ballots and advanced polls hit record numbers, so I am expecting a high turnout tomorrow. I encourage everyone to get out early to make sure they have an opportunity to cast their ballots,” Arnold said.

Click to play video: 'Final day on the federal election campaign trail'
Final day on the federal election campaign trail

Shelley Desautels, Liberal candidate for the North Okanagan – Shuswap, said she is sticking close to home in Salmon Arm after a grueling month on the campaign trail.

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“We’ve had a short stretch of hitting it hard,” she said.

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“We are hoping for a good turnout, I know advanced polls were up, I know lots of people are really concerned about climate, affordability, these things I think are going to get people out and voting tomorrow.”

Conservative candidate Dan Albas is looking to be re-elected in the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding. He has held the seat since 2015.

“It’s been my experience the last few days that most people know who they are voting for, there are a few people that may still be undetermined, so I am going to be popping through Peachland and West Kelowna probably hitting coffee shops because there are always going to be people chatting about politics and our country,” Albas said.

Click to play video: 'Green Leader Annamie Paul makes 1st stop in B.C. as clock winds down on election'
Green Leader Annamie Paul makes 1st stop in B.C. as clock winds down on election

Albas is also expecting strong voter turnout and urges voters to be prepared for potential delays due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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“We’ve already seen many reports of higher-than-average turnout, that’s a great thing in a democracy, we always want to see higher voter turnout so people can have their say,” Albas said.

“There are going to be some restrictions and that may mean longer lines, so we ask for everyone’s cooperation and patience.”

In Kelowna—Lake Country, Conservative candidate Tracy Gray beat Liberal incumbent Stephen Fuhr by nearly 9,000 votes in the 2019 election, and she’s now fighting to keep her seat in the 2021 federal election.

In a Facebook video, she offered her advice to voters.

Click to play video: 'Analysis: impact of week five of federal election in B.C.'
Analysis: impact of week five of federal election in B.C.

“Make sure you plan your day, dress accordingly to the weather, and if you didn’t get your voter card in the mail, check to see what identification you need to bring and where your closest polling station is,” Gray said.

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Gray told Global News she expects high voter turnout.

“Across the province, support for the NDP is high, so it’s important that all Conservatives get out to vote.”

Liberal candidate Tim Krupa said volunteers are out in full force encouraging people to vote ahead of the polls opening at 7:00 a.m. on Monday.

“We are out today across Kelowna Lake-Country, in Mission, in Rutland, in Glenmore, downtown, in Lake Country, reminding folks to get out and vote,” Krupa said.

“There are so many key issues at stake for our community that our current representation in Kelowna Lake-Country has fallen short on. Whether it’s protecting our environment from extreme weather, protecting our healthcare heroes and encouraging people to get vaccinated, I think residents in Kelowna-Lake Country want stronger leadership.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. ridings to watch in 2021 federal election'
B.C. ridings to watch in 2021 federal election

To find your polling station, check your voter information card or use Elections Canada’s Voter Information Service.

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To vote in a federal election, you must be a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old on election day, and be able to prove your identity and address.

Global Okanagan published a special series featuring the 2021 candidates and local issues in each federal Okanagan riding. The reports can be viewed here:

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

Kelowna—Lake Country

North Okanagan-Shuswap

South Okanagan—West Kootenay

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