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Canadians eager for change as they head to the polls

With Canadians tired of poor governance and looking for change, voting in Monday’s federal election is as simple as ABC – anything but Conservative.

Well, the idea is simple, but executing it will prove a little trickier in much of the country. If the goal is to turf Stephen Harper – and, ideally, put an end to the troubling Reform experiment – residents of each riding will have to assess which of the other parties has the best chance of winning – in some, it will be the Liberal candidate, in others the NDP. The Greens, while making inroads, still remain on the outside, though they run the risk of splitting the centre-left vote.

While the NDP looked most likely to topple Harper, it’s now the Liberals that are surging – polls put the party some seven percentage points ahead of the Conservatives.

Here in Kitchener-Conestoga, currently held by Harold Albrecht, the riding is leaning towards the incumbent. Voting patterns are such that only the Liberals under Tim Louis have a realistic shot of unseating the Conservative candidate – the riding had been Liberal prior to the 2006 election that sent Albrecht to Ottawa.

Few of us, however, vote for the local candidate, opting for the party instead. On that front, too, the choice should exclude the Conservatives, as their policies are ultimately destructive for middle-class Canadians, whose incomes and standard of living have been eroding under neo-conservative ideologies. Tory times are tough times, as history has shown, both here and abroad.

If Canadians voted in their own best interests, there would be no talk of a Conservative government. Alas, that is not always the case.

With just a few days until we go to the polls, major swings in core support are not in the cards. The key will be voter turnout: the more people that cast a ballot, the better for opposition parties. That includes both the party faithful, particularly Liberal supporters who stayed away in 2011, and the disenchanted who feel politicians aren’t getting it done for them.

Of course, each party’s fate depends on the leadership. Harper has proven himself unworthy of the top job given his autocratic manner, dishonesty, poor economic performance and outright corruption. His party’s efforts to shape the public image of the Liberal’s Justin Trudeau, so effective against Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, has largely backfired. Canadians have now made him the frontrunner. Thomas Mulcair has shown himself to be an able debater, but hasn’t displayed any of the appeal of his predecessor Jack Layton, who led the NDP to its best showing ever in the last election.

Elizabeth May is a bright spot, taking aim at the status quo and daring to speak the truth on a range of issues – from oil wars to economics – on which others repeat the same tired lies. But she has been largely invisible this time around, and has no chance of becoming prime minister at any rate.

The battle really comes down to Harper versus Trudeau. The latter may be something of an unknown factor – the name carries unwarranted baggage for some, particularly out west – but Harper is the devil we know. His attacks on the Parliamentary democracy, corruption in the name of blatant power grabs and attacks on parts of the country’s very fabric means it’s time for him to go.

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