Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 19: Has anyone seen Stephen Harper's lapdog "Skippy?"

Sensing shift, PS union targets Poilievre's riding

Kathryn May
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Sunday, September 27, 2015. Conservative candidate Pierre Poilievre was the Number 1 target Saturday night at an all candidates debate in Manitock. Poilievre is vying with Liberal Chris Rodgers, the NDP's Kc Larocque and Deborah Coyne of the Greens to represent the new riding of Carleton, Blair Crawford. (Photograph: Blair Crawford/Ottawa Citizen)

Federal unions are doubling down on their campaigns to defeat the Conservatives in key area ridings — including that of Conservative powerhouse and regional minister Pierre Poilievre — as a “momentum for change” builds in the final stretch of the federal election.

Debi Daviau, President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, said the union will pull all the stops over the next few days to mobilize public servants to vote and replace the Conservative government.

“We are confident that if we can get the vote out, there will be change,” said Daviau. “The more members we get out, the better the chance of changing the government.”

Until now PIPSC, which represents professionals from scientists and auditors to engineers and technology experts, targeted four Ottawa-area ridings where it has a total concentration of more than 10,000 members — 3,260 in Nepean, 2,290 in Ottawa-Orleans, 2,130 in Ottawa West-Nepean, and 1,750 in Carleton.

Poilievre is expected to win the new riding of Carleton — which was hived from the former riding of Nepean-Carleton.

Daviau said the union included it as a target riding for “symbolic” reasons because of Poilievre’s prominence as regional minister for the National Capital Region. She said what’s changed is a shifting momentum away from the Conservatives that opened an “opportunity for change,” she said.

She said Poilievre has made missteps, such as mounting a poor defence on the muzzling of scientists and killing the long-form census. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s open letter to the public service – delivered by Poilievre – and his proposed ban on the niqab in the public service have not gone over well with many public servants.

“What’s different now is that we are actually going to try and take him out,” said Daviau.

Poilievre said in an email that union leaders are misleading public servants about Conservative policies and he is sure public servants will vote for low taxes and balanced budgets.

“We have eliminated the deficit without the mass layoffs the Liberals introduced in the 1990s. We have protected defined-benefits plans and will continue to do so without any changes whatsoever,” he said.

“In the end, public servants will vote to keep taxes low and the budget balanced. The alternative under the Liberals is higher taxes and more debt to fund out-of-control spending.”

Both PIPSC and the giant Public Service Alliance of Canada are ramping up their efforts in ridings with tight two-way races to stop vote-splitting that could result in Conservative wins. They aren’t telling members how to vote but they are calling and door-knocking for the rest of the week to make members vote for the party in their ridings most likely to unseat the Conservatives.

PIPSC is expanding its efforts to Kanata-Carleton, where the public service vote could make a difference in what’s shaping up to be a close Liberal-Conservative race.

“We didn’t select Kanata-Carleton at first because we didn’t think there was a chance … of unseating the Conservatives, and now that there is a tie in the polls and a red wave is happening, we thought, ‘Let’s give it a whirl’,” said Daviau.

PSAC Vice-President Larry Rousseau said the union is targeting Kanata-Carleton, as well as the ridings of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Nepean and Pontiac.

Rousseau said the vote turnout among public servants is historically low in the National Capital Region, where many opt to remain neutral and not vote at all. PSAC has about 50,000 members in the region.

He said a high turnout of public servants, disillusioned by a decade of Tory cuts and a deteriorating relationship with the government, could turn electoral fortunes in the tight races shaping up in some area ridings.

“I can tell you they are engaged this time and will be coming out to vote,” he said.

Both the Liberals and NDP announced public service platforms aimed at rebuilding the relationship and restoring trust.

Along with door-knocking, the unions will be stepping up their campaigns with telephone blitzes and mobilizing employees at work. Union representatives will be reminding public servants to vote as they arrive and leave work. Daviau said the unions have rented commercial space in some office buildings to distribute pamphlets and remind people to vote.

PSAC set aside $5 million for the election campaign and spent about $2.7 million on its Vote to Stop the Cuts campaign before the election. It has earmarked another $430,000 to carry the campaign to voting day.

It tailored its advertising strategy around the pre- and post-writ periods because the Fair Elections Act imposed strict limits on third-party advertising during election campaigns.

Daviau said PIPSC has spent about half of its spending limit since the writ was dropped.

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