In preparation for this year’s federal election, Marshall Neufeld, the Conservative Party candidate for the sprouting riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay, was rounding up support with Canada’s Minister of Defence Jason Kenney.
Neufeld and Minister Kenney were on Douglas Avenue going door-to-door, namely to discuss tax relief that average Canadian families have benefitted from under the Harper Government, and to reinforce their belief that the Conservative Party is best suited to represent the local riding.
But with the man at the helm of Canada’s war machine in town, local media were more interested to learn about Canada’s military involvement in the Middle East.
“We’re going to strike (ISIS) wherever clear targets arise that do not constitute possibility of civilian causalities,” he said in a scrum with reporters.
He said that Canadian CF-18 Hornets led a coalition airstrike on May 20 against several ISIS targets near the Syrian city of Ar-Raqqah – the ISIS capital.
“This shows them they don’t have a safe haven anywhere.” “Those are unregulated areas not controlled by any government which allows ISIS to recalibrate and to attack,” MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla Dan Albas said over the phone. “Unless the Iraqi government and the Kurds are able to repel these threats and become strong enough and viable enough to do that on an ongoing basis, this may take time.”
Minister Kenney expressed frustration with the pace that the domestic army is progressing.
“Should the Iraqi security forces frankly get their act together, launch an effective counter-offensive against ISIS in Iraq, they will obviously go back to the centre of their operations.”
When asked why ISIS seems to have eclipsed the Taliban, Minister Kenney said the group still poses a threat around southern Afghanistan, but “thankfully there is a competent, sovereign government of Afghanistan that we can deal with who can fight the terrorists themselves.”
Although he was willing to speak to matters dealing with the Ministry of Defence, Minister Kenney’s visit was about supporting Neufeld in the upcoming federal election.
With the NDP taking out the Progressive Conservative’s dynasty in Alberta, Neufeld was asked if was nervous about the orange wave heading west.
“(It’s) not something I’m nervous about,” he said. “It certainly does change the dynamic somewhat.”
“We think it’s a wake-up call,” Minister Kenney said, citing his home riding in Calgary which saw its first-ever NDP MLA elected earlier this month. He said the major defeat left a lot of Albertan’s wondering what happened.
“What the heck happened was a lot of people who were understandably cranky with the outgoing government and upset with that kind of failed merger last year casted a protest vote that they thought would be risk-free. And this reminds people that there’s no such thing as a risk-free protest vote.”
When asked who he perceived as the biggest threat in the riding of South-Okanagan West Kootenay, Neufeld said he predicts a three, or possibly four-way race.
“The Liberals are party you can never take for granted anywhere in any election in the country, and of course the NDP, placing second last time, have to be a factor, and I think that a lot of people forget that the Green Party actually placed third and placed quite well in this area in the last election or two.”
Unless an election is called early, voting will take place on Oct. 19.