THERE ARE LESS than two weeks left before the federal election Sept. 20, but it is hard to say where things will end up either locally or federally.
This is the first time in five elections that an incumbent isn’t on the ballot for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo. All bets are off as to who will come out the winner.
Kamloops and area were willing to support a virtual unknown. Cathy McLeod was so unknown at the time that at first she was often misnamed as another local woman with the same surname. Given that she was almost unknown locally when she ran, it was the party that people were supporting.
Fast forward, and it seems that Frank Caputo, the current Conservative candidate, might also be wanting to run a campaign under the radar. His twitter feed and Facebook page are full of pictures of dogs but not much else.
He has also dodged the Sept. 8 debate on the environment hosted by Transition Kamloops and the Kamloops Chapter of the BC Sustainable Energy Association. If you don’t already know Caputo, it’s difficult to get a sense of who he is. It seems he is relying on the name of his party and puppies to get elected.
Meanwhile, the Liberals are running a “parachute candidate,” Jesse McCormick. Back in 2019, McCormick was nominated in the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding in Ontario a day before that federal election. He has done something similar here, showing up in Kamloops just before the writ was dropped.
Credit goes to him for spending considerable time since the election was called meeting people, especially local small businesses. Whether he can translate a generic federal Liberal message, and almost no local connection to the riding, to a victory is hard to say.
Bill Sundhu, the federal NDP candidate, can claim what neither of the others can: roots in both the Cariboo and Kamloops. Having grown up in Williams Lake, including time spent working in a sawmill, as well as 25 years in Kamloops in the legal profession, Sundhu has an understanding of both rural and urban parts of the riding.
Sundhu has worked hard on reconciliation. Along with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Sundhu has met with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kúkpi7 Roseanne Casimir to pay respects for the 215 children buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
His strong record on human rights translates well to advocacy work required by an MP. If anyone can unseat the Conservatives locally, Sundhu looks best able to do so. He’s put in the time throughout the riding, and he doesn’t shy away from interviews with the press or public debates.
There are four others in the local election. Iain Currie is again representing the Green party, while Corally Delwo is the People’s Party candidate. Two independents, Wayne Allan and Bob O’Brien round out the ballots. One can only hope that, despite the Greens’ national disarray, locally Currie can bring forward some solid ideas to address climate change.
Every party needs to get on side to make sure that this looming disaster is addressed with meaningful changes. Other than “Freedom,” whatever that means, it’s hard to say what Delwo has to offer the riding, given that defying public health orders is something her leader Maxine Bernier considers reasonable to do.
Nationally, this election has turned towards ugly with physical attacks and threats. Violence has no place in democracies, and all major parties have condemned the acts. Locally, the biggest hope is that candidates can get their messages out without intimidation.
Voters need to get to know who is running and their parties’ positions before voting day. Candidates’ willingness to face voters at debates, to share their ideas on social media, and engage with media goes a long way. Let’s hope voters locally treat all the candidates respectfully.
Whoever we elect as our Member of Parliament, they will need to be an advocate for everyone in the riding. They will need to be someone willing to speak up for the interests of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo. Let’s hope whoever is elected is a strong voice for our region.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.