Hundreds of NDP supporters packed the ballroom at the Coast Kamloops Hotel to hear NDP party leader Tom Mulcair make his case to Kamloops.
The ballroom was at capacity and supporters also filled the hallway outside as Bill Sundhu, the NDP candidate for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding gave the opening address.
“We will elect the first socially democratic government in Canada’s History … It’s only 48 days until we defeat Stephen Harper,” Sundhu told the crowd.
Sundhu went on to criticize Justin Trudeau’s stance on Bill C-51 and promise a balanced budget if the NDP forms government.
“Nowhere is the call for change as loud and as clear as in B.C.,” Mulcair said as he took the stage to thundering applause following Sundhu’s speech.
Mulcair’s promises to supporters included better funding for the emergency crews that battled wildfires this summer, restoration of door-to-door mail delivery and a two per cent reduction in taxes on small businesses. Mulcair also used the rally to repeat his criticisms of Harper’s $800 million advertising budget and Bill C-51.
Mulcair was also supported by NDP candidates from surrounding ridings: Angelique Wood of Central Okanagan Similkameen, Jacqui Gringras of North Okanagan-Shuswap and Richard Cannings of South Okanagan-West Kootenay.
Kamloops has been a Conservative riding since 2000, but the NDP under Michael Crawford was in second place in 2006, 2008 and 2011, each time within about 15 per cent of the leading Conservatives. Local NDP supporters can also draw on Kamloops’ constant NDP support throughout the 1980s and 90s for encouragement in the upcoming election. Nelson Riis won five consecutive elections for the NDP in Kamloops between 1980 and 2000. Kamloops voters even supported Riis through the 1993 federal election which saw only nine NDP MPs retain their seats.
According to a poll published by EKOS Research on Friday Sept. 4, the NDP is currently polling in first place. Based on the question “If a federal election were held tomorrow who would you vote for?” The NDP garnered the support of 30.2 per cent of respondents. But according to this poll, their lead is shrinking, down 3.4 percentage points from the poll conducted on August 28.
A major issue of the campaign has been electoral reform, with both the NDP and the Liberals promising to abolish the First Past the Post system that is currently in place in favour of proportional representation systems. In recent days, the Syrian refugee crisis has also emerged as a contentious issue, with both the Liberals and the NDP criticizing the Conservative policy on refugees.
The NDP has built their campaign around promises of greater government spending that would provide Canadians with $15 a day childcare, $15 an hour minimum wage for federal government employees and full restoration of door-to-door mail delivery. Mulcair has promised a balanced budget despite the new spending. Both the Conservatives and the Liberals have criticized the NDP’s promises in recent days by producing figures that suggest a balanced budget would require more taxation to offset the new spending.