Support for Canada PM solid in home district, but voters restless

Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:02am EDT
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY (Reuters) - His signs are getting vandalized and some long-time supporters plan to switch their votes but Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper should handily win his own seat, despite a restless electorate, in an election that pits him against a country singer and a 34-year-old doctor in their first campaigns.

Support for the Conservative leader's aging government is far from universal among voters in his own Calgary-area riding, or district.

A Reuters straw poll of residents of the Calgary Heritage riding, an affluent suburb of Alberta's oil capital, echo wider themes emerging across Canada: a desire for fresh ideas and new faces.

Across Calgary Heritage's green lawns, vandals have targeted the blue signs of the prime minister, 56, and voters have voiced fatigue with a nine-year-old government seeking a fourth consecutive electoral victory.

"We think he (Harper) is actually tired of governing," said Tracey Wood, 53, a small business owner who voted Conservative in 2011 but plans to switch allegiance on Oct. 19.

Information technology manager Scott Isaacs, 49, a lifelong Conservative, wants "anyone but Harper" in power after the election, and sees a sense of entitlement similar to that of the provincial Conservatives, whose government was swept from power in May after 44 years of rule.

Harper takes center stage in Calgary on Thursday for the second leaders' debate, amid high expectations for a campaign turnaround.

The Calgary Heritage district was created in 2012 and closely resembles Calgary Southwest, the riding Harper held since 2002. While he won Calgary Southwest with 75 percent of the vote, projections from poll tracker show support ebbing to 62.9 percent this time.   Continued...

Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign event at a factory in Stittsville, Ontario September 13, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie