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Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia upbeat on the Trudeau factor

The upcoming election is more than a numbers game for incumbent MP Francis Scarpaleggia in Lac-Saint-Louis, who looks back at the 2011 result as something of an anomaly.

Scarpaleggia saw the New Democratic Party candidate double his party’s support and come within 2,204 votes of upsetting him in what was considered a Liberal fortress. The Conservative candidate was not far behind in third place.

As he prepares to run for a fifth term, Scarpaleggia attributes the NDP’s strong showing to “the Jack Layton factor”— the late NDP leader who was campaigning with a cane as he battled cancer — and the fact that then Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was “not very popular.”

This time around, he believes Justin Trudeau will bring voters back to their traditional support for the Liberal brand.

“He’s well liked on the ground in our community, and well appreciated elsewhere in Canada.”

In addition, Scarpaleggia detects “a desire for change that is palpable. I am taken aback by how strong is the desire for a new prime minister.”

The Conservatives hammer away at Trudeau’s alleged “lack of judgment,” but Scarpaleggia says that’s unfair.

“Justin is very much a hands-on leader, he’s rebuilt the party, he was on top of it himself and can take credit for it. He knows the issues very well.

“He grew up in a household where these issues were front-and-centre, and he got to debate them with his father at the dinner table. Talk about an education!

“He has a real grasp of policy and knows where he wants to go with policy.”

In spite of the Conservatives’ abundant use of negative advertising, “the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau is essentially tied for first place.”

According to the website threehundredeight.com, the Conservatives are slightly ahead in popular support nationally, with 31 percent support compared with the Liberals’ 29 percent, but way behind the front-running NDP and Liberals in Quebec.

“That tells me that there is a basic positive feeling about Justin.”

As for his Tory challenger, Éric Girard, Scarpaleggia, a Kirkland resident, says he plans to “build on the trust that I think I’ve established with my constituents. I live in the riding. I worked 10 years for Clifford Lincoln. I won a very tough nomination. I have a young family and we partake in community activities at all levels. I know the big businesses, the small businesses, and all the community groups, and what their needs are.”

As for NDP candidate Ryan Young, “I think the dynamic will be different this time. It was almost surreal, with the Layton surge.”

He prides himself on developing expertise in water issues, lobbying for the “train de l’ouest”, and was the party’s public security critic.

On Liberal support for the controversial anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51, Scarpaleggia recalled that his party supported the reintroduction of preventive arrest two years ago.

“The right to physical security is a Charter right. Certain aspects of our security law needed to be tightened up. The NDP has said they will not repeal it, while we have proposed amendments to get greater civilian oversight of national security agencies.”

(The NDP has promised to repeal “every offending provision” of C-51.)

“If we’re elected, we’re going to amend the bill to provide proper civilian oversight … I don’t think it’s credible to challenge Justin Trudeau for not being a strong enough defender of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

His campaign will echo that of the Liberals nationally: a call for “fairness for the middle class, a better child tax credit, and income tax cuts for those in the $44,000 to $90,000 range.”

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