Could PPC be a wildcard in splitting conservative vote in Elgin-Middlesex-London Riding?
While the federal party leaders continue their final push toward Monday's election, the same is being done in municipalities around Southwestern Ontario.
The riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London (EML) has been conservative for 17 years, and once again appears to be a two-person race for the seat between Conservative Incumbent Karen Vecchio, and Liberal first-timer Afeez Ojibowu.
However, the wildcard could be the PPC support in east Elgin which is gaining traction, and could possibly split some of the right-wing vote.
Saturday morning, candidates were doing a last minute canvassing push.
"Right now it's connecting with those voters and in making sure that they get out to vote on Monday, and we are all over this riding in the next 24 hours," says Vecchio, who has served six years as the riding's Member of Parliament.
Vecchio started her day visiting with patrons and business owners at the Horton Market in St. Thomas.
"It's working with small businesses, working with seniors’ homes, seniors and stakeholders in the community," says Vecchio. "That's what I will continue to do, and we've reached out to 18,000 doors as the riding continues to grow.”
EML, a riding which is a mix of urban and rural voters hasn't always been Blue. Liberal MPP Steve Peters served three terms provincially from 1999-2011, and MP Gar Knutson was in Parliament from 1993-2004.
"It certainly had little to do with me but I received the wonderful gift of 11 years in Parliament, thanks in large part to Brian Mulroney and Preston Manning," says Knutson, who now lives in Ottawa.
"Those were the two primary actors in in splitting the conservative vote.”
Knutson feels once the Reform and Alliance Parties joined the Conservatives, it's been much more difficult for Liberals to win a seat in the riding. However, with the rise in support for Chelsea Hillier and the PPC, its possible history could repeat itself.
"I think it's a very similar phenomenon, that there's always an element in the population that are angry, and the angry vote needs somewhere to go," says Knutson.
"The Riding could go red although I don't know that there's any objective evidence that suggests we're gonna go red this time but it's possible. All it takes is a few percentage points to switch from losing a campaign to winning a campaign.”
It's a way to victory for first-time Liberal Candidate Afeez Ojibowu, but he's hoping people to vote based on his party’s platform.
"I think it's about the messaging, you know much more than, you know, taking scrapping a few votes here from the PPC," says Ojibowu.
Ojibowu says the federal government's response to the pandemic has been one of the best in the world, and his party is looking out for all Canadians.
"We have a lovely country that is inclusive, that is welcoming you know immigrants from all over the world," says Ojibowu, whose first of many stops Saturday was canvassing in the southeast end of St. Thomas.
"That's the reason why so with my accent, with my name Afeez, which is obviously Muslim, and my background, coming to this country do well in such a very short time. I've had a huge footprint of service back into this community, and then aspire to lead you know in this community as an MP.”
Other candidates in the riding are Katelyn Cody (NDP) Amanda Stark (Green) and Michael Hopkins (Christian Heritage Party of Canada).