Election campaign starts to gel

The first great debate of party leaders is now over — it took place at 4 p.m. Tuesday. This will likely crystallize attention among those who plan to vote in the May 2 federal election.

The great challenge is to reach those who do not plan to vote. Voting turnout in Canadian elections has been on a downward path for more than 20 years, and given the lack of substance thus far in the campaign, there is little incentive for a person already not inclined  to vote to change their ways.

I recently took a look at a fascinating snapshot of voting differences across the country. I was surprised to learn that young people in Quebec vote in greater numbers than in other parts of the country, and that Newfoundland voters are not inclined to take part in federal elections — even seniors, who are always among the most committed voters.

It was also interesting to learn that the highest voter turnout in the country was in a suburban, affluent, francophone Montreal riding — a riding that consistently returns Bloc Quebecois MPs to Ottawa.

One thing that did not surprise me as much was that voter turnout is consistently poor in northern ridings across the country. People feel very disconnected from government in such places, and a lower percentage of First Nations people (who live in northern areas) tend to vote.

Langley’s voter turnout is middle of the road. In the last election in 2008,  it was 62 per cent, as compared to the national average of 59.1 per cent. Voter turnout nationally dropped 5.6 per cent from the 2006 election, while in Langley it dropped four per cent.

There are many committed voters here — particularly seniors and longtime residents. They will be at the polls on voting day, or show up at an advance poll.

Those less likely to vote will be newcomers to the area, who are less familiar with the candidates; younger people, many of whom have little interest in politics; and parents  with young families, who are very busy with work, home, school, children’s activities and a host of other things. At that busy time of life, something has to give — and often it is voting.

We have five candidates to choose from in Langley. Three of them have offices and are easy to reach.

Rebecca Darnell is running for the Liberals. Her campaign office is at 6351 197 Street and can be reached at 604-533-8436.

Piotr Majkowski is the NDP candidate. His campaign office is at 20443 Fraser Highway. The telephone number is 604-530-3043.

Mark Warawa is running for the Conservatives, His campaign office is at 114-6080 200 Street. The phone number is 604-534-1160.

Also running are Carey Poitras of the Green Party and Craig Nobbs of the Pirate Party of Canada.

All the candidates can also be found on the Internet, with specific campaign web pages, Facebook accounts and other web locations.

The Times will be featuring more information about the candidates in coming issues, and covering several of the all-candidate meetings which are planned. There will be plenty of information for readers.