By the end of Monday night (Sept. 20), Canadians should have a better idea of the federal political landscape for the foreseeable future.
Canadians will have had the chance to vote that could see the return of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party to form a new parliament or have a new government in the likely form of either Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives or the NDP and Jagmeet Singh.
Since called, the three major parties and several smaller ones such as the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois have been on the campaign trail informing the public on their policies and what they hope to achieve if elected.
Polls have shown Trudeau and O’Toole flip-flopping between the lead on a near daily basis, though neither party has shown enough support for a majority government.
As local voters cast their ballots, what they see as a priority will hopefully be on their minds.
The coming years will see several issues become pressing for the federal government.
We are still in the COVID-19 pandemic, but the economic recovery from the novel coronavirus will be a priority for all levels of government. Similarly, repairing the battered healthcare and long-term care systems have been pushed to the forefront for many people.
The impacts of climate change have continue to grow, leading many citizens to see it as the main issue facing all Canadians as warming temperatures have people realizing the threat to the world.
Finally, housing and affordability have shown the need for greater attention and planning as the prices of basic necessities of food and housing have taken a greater amount of Canadians' paycheques.
The Banff-Airdrie riding – likely one of the most secure in Canada for the Conservative Party – has nine candidates vying for office.
The region stretches from the largely left leaning Banff and Canmore in the west of the riding to the more conservative communities of Airdrie and Cochrane. The issues facing the Bow Valley compared to that of Airdrie and Cochrane are significantly different.
The valley has a focus on tourism, the environment, wildlife and the arts, while Cochrane and Airdrie focus more on industrial and manufacturing jobs and agriculture. But with the majority of people in the riding living in the Cochrane and Airdrie area, their votes often outshine those from the valley.
Incumbent Blake Richards is the favourite entering the race, having won the last election with 71.1 per cent of the vote. However, of the nine candidates, six of them will garner the more right wing leaning voters.
Though it could split a conservative vote leading to a closer race, Richards was the lone candidate absent from the first election forum in Airdrie on Sept. 8, showing confidence in the security of his seat at the House of Commons.
As he seeks a potential fifth time being elected, Richards has never received less than 63 per cent of the vote in the riding. But with conservative candidates from Nadine Wellwood of the People’s Party of Canada and independent Derek Sloan as well as libertarian Tariq Elnaga of the Maverick Party and independents Caroline O’Driscoll and Ron Voss, they could all threaten to chip away at some traditional conservative voters.
Liberal David Gamble, the Green Party’s Aidan Blum and the NDP's Sarah Zagoda will look to make a dent in the conservative riding, but are likely to secure the vast majority of their votes from the Bow Valley.
With no clear predicted victor in the federal election, the outcome is likely to come down to the wire.
With the many issues facing residents, particularly the varying ones across the Banff-Airdrie riding, it is important for people to become familiar with what is important before voting.