Race in Southern Interior going down to the wire

The message is clear from the candidates in the Southern Interior riding, they want people to get off their couch and vote.

The message is clear from the candidates in the Southern Interior riding, they want people to get off their couch and vote.

“My opponent is not the NDP, my opponent is apathy,” said Conservative candidate Stephen Hill. “Last election NDP had 20,000 votes, Conservatives had 17,000 votes and 30,000 people didn’t vote. If I can remove 5,000 people from the couch, the TV or whatever is holding them back from voting, then I can win. If I can get voter turnout up and young people out to vote for jobs and economic prosperity, protection of schools and hospitals and we get another incumbent government.”

Hill said he has been door knocking asking people if they are happy with the closure of schools, closure of health care facilities, the economy and low-paying jobs.

“I present myself as a different choice to that. I was responsible for the opening of the Midway mill, have an economic development strategy in the area and I am a job creator. I can create high-value jobs,” he said. “Economic development means job, jobs means families, families means kids and kids means no longer is Rock Creek, Oliver, Midway and Greenwood fighting over who wins or loses a school.”

Encouraging people to vote on May 2 was also on the mind of Liberal candidate Shan Lavell.

While campaigning in the riding she has heard people talking about the long gun registry, health care, but mostly people want stability in their lives.

“They want democracy to work. Stand up and say I decided to vote. We are part of something bigger, we are part of a community,” said Lavell.  Politics can be fun. I got a hockey stick and skates and a bit of padding and I occasionally go into the corners with my sweetheart NDP candidate Alex Atamanenko, and I go into the corners with Bryan Hunt of the Green Party, and I go into the corner with Stephen Hill of the Conservatives. I look out at my winger, pass him the puck and maybe we score a goal.”

Green Party candidate Bryan Hunt longs to return back to the Interior from Calgary, but it is one of the biggest issues he has heard from voters that holds him back.

“Jobs are a real issue, that is no surprise to anyone in the riding really. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the province which needs to be addressed,” said Hunt.

Hunt said he spent 22 years of his life in the Southern Interior and over the course of his campaign he has received a lot of support for the Green Party.

Still he remains realistic in how that translates to voting.

“The only thing preventing us from having a bigger showing is strategic voting to be honest,” said Hunt. “From my point of view, I wish people would just vote for who they want to vote for. Make it simple. The only way to make sure your values are reflected in Ottawa is to make sure the person that gets in most reflects your values.”

Incumbent NDP candidate Alex Atamanenko said the early surge his party has shown nationally, according to polls, is a matter of having the right message.

“The party is gaining momentum in the country because we have got the message. We are talking about lifting seniors out of poverty. We are talking about health care. We are talking about those issues that concern a lot of Canadians that haven’t been addressed in the last while. There seems to be this feeling that we could actually get more seats because of the fact we are addressing those issues and that is pretty exciting,” said Atamanenko.

The candidate thanked everyone who has been helping his campaign and vowed to keep working in Ottawa on their behalf if he wins again.