Election countdown in local riding

Ten days are left and five candidates hope they can get the numbers to win in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge.

(From left) Bob D’Eith

(From left) Bob D’Eith

Ten days are left and five candidates hope they can get the numbers to win in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge.

“I’m going to do my best,” says Green party candidate Peter Tam, whose chances of winning are on the outside.

“There are five choices and we all are saying something different,” Tam said.

“I’m going to do my best.”

Tam has his work cut out, trying to improve on his 2011 showing, in which he won 2,629 votes for the Greens in the old riding of Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission. He’ll need almost 10 times that to get into the running for victory in this election.

People are telling him they want to vote Green, but are choosing another candidate for strategic reasons.

“Everybody has told me, they want to vote Green … but they’re so afraid of the Conservatives getting back in.

“If each of those people voted Green, I would get the majority.”

Dan Ruimy, with the Liberals, is facing the same numerical challenge, after his party won only 2,739 votes last election.

“From Day 1, I told you, I was going to win this thing and I still am.”

“It helps to have Justin [Trudeau] on our side, of course.”

Ruimy said support is growing for the Liberal party as people realize that it has a plan that puts the needs of the country first instead of winning an election.

“It’s not how do we plan an election, it’s how do we do right for the country. In doing that, that should get you the election.

Poverty and housing are the top issues he’s finding on the campaign trail. He’s concerned about poverty issues, such as helping single women.

“We’re always perpetuating the cycle of poverty,” Ruimy said. “The Conservatives have out their balanced budget after six deficits and they mock our concept of running a deficit, which is ridiculous.”

Ruimy said if he’s elected, he’ll use the allowance for an MP’s office to hold town hall or round-table meetings on various topics with voters.

It’s been a long campaign, but it’s been on focused on the issues, he said. “I think people are seeing through the smoke screen. We are ripe for change.”

Mike Murray, past executive-assistant to retired MP Randy Kamp, is running for the Conservatives in the riding.

In the 2011 election, Kamp’s margin of victory (28,803 votes) was almost 10,000 above his nearest rival, the NDP candidate.

The new, smaller riding of Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, has only 70,000 eligible voters, compared to 88,500 in the former Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission.

“I think I feel pretty good,” Murray said.

Key to election is to identifying support and getting voters to the polls. Organizers are trying to do that during advance polls, Oct. 9 to 12.

“They’re committed. They’re ready to support me. We want to get them out there,” Murray said.

But he’s not taking anything for granted and keeps pounding the pavement and knocking on doors to win votes. One thousand people showed up a nomination meeting in the summer.

He says he’s got a good team, with about 100 volunteers.

“I also think we have work as if we’re behind.”

Murray said most people are polite when he knocks on doors. And the top issue? “I really do think people are asking the question, regarding the economy.

“Now is not the time to change course in a fragile, global economy, go the route primarily of my opponent, the NDP, where they’ve never governed the country before. And I do get some sense that people are thinking that through.”

Murray said he hasn’t heard the issue of Muslim women wearing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies, saying that’s more of a Quebec issue. The government has twice tried to get a court decision overthrown allowing a woman to wear that while being sworn in, although she has to reveal her face when actually getting her citizenship.

He added most people are supporting the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade deal recently approved, though still requiring parliamentary approval.

The NDP’s position on that issue could be a sign of a collapse in voter support, said Murray.

“They have to retreat to their anti-free trade stance and that’s kind of their hail Mary.”

Bob D’Eith, with the NDP, says it remains a tight race in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge.

“We’re out working every day. Definitely, people are wanting change. That’s the common theme.”

D’Eith said if the NDP MPs across Canada can hold on to their seats, the party only will need 35 seats to defeat Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

That makes B.C. important. And while polling is down nationally for the party, “we know the polls in B.C. are going up for the NDP.

“So the national polls don’t necessarily reflect what’s going in B.C. So we’re buoyed by that.”

He added that the NDP is the only party that can beat the Conservative party in this riding.

“If you look at the polls, it’s Conservative-NDP. That’s the way it’s going to be in this riding. It’s been that way for 50 years. That’s the way it’s going to be that way this time again.”

“I think most people are not very happy that [Stephen] Harper would conduct negotiations secretly then sign it in the middle of the election when he’s supposed to be the custodian of the government.”

Each country still has to ratify the deal, which hasn’t been released.

“We don’t know what the terms are,” D’Eith said.

Steve Ranta is also running as an independent.