Will the battle for Charlottetown be a multi-party race to the finish?

Talk to just about anyone who lives in Charlottetown and you'll get a lot of agreement on the big problems that need fixing in the riding. 

The P.E.I. capital's population has shot up steadily in the past decade. With that has come some major growing pains that are front of mind with voters heading into the federal election. 

"We're now seeing how desperate the housing crisis is on P.E.I., especially for a new family such as ourselves," said Koady Sock. 

Sock recently moved to the city with his partner Morgan Varis, and their three-month-old. They're all living with her parents. 

"I came back to get a new job and to see if I could get a place on my own and it's really been a struggle," said Varis. 

John Robertson/CBC

The growing pains don't end at housing. 

"My daughter recently relocated from Guelph, and has been told that she, with her three-year-old and soon to be new baby, will probably have to wait three to four years before she gets her own doctor," said Judy Pye. 

"That's an important issue for families. The same goes with daycare.  We need to get more places for daycare."

'Who is going to vote for who?'

Finding consensus on the big issues in Charlottetown is one thing. Finding voters who've settled on the party and candidate to tackle those issues is another. 

There are five candidates in the running — four of them trying to put an end to the Liberals' 31-year reign in the city.  

Steve Bruce/CBC

Many voters CBC spoke to said deciding who to support at the polls is proving tough. 

"I am 100 per cent undecided," said Becca Griffin. "I listen to my peers a lot right now. Everybody's got a different opinion."

"It'll probably be a last minute thing for me," said Kenny Tierney. "And I go around the coffee shop now and then, and it's difficult there too to make out heads or tails, who is going to vote for who?"

Sean Casey - Liberal 

That indecision doesn't appear to faze the incumbent, Liberal Sean Casey. 

A lawyer by trade, Casey's looking to win a third term as Charlottetown's MP. In the 2015 election, he won more than 50 per cent of the vote. 

But he acknowledges he's in a tougher fight this time round, having now spent four years in government. 

"In the last election, Stephen Harper had all the baggage and we had none," said Casey. "That's part of the reason we had so much wind at our back.  Now there's a bit of a head wind."

Steve Bruce/CBC

He acknowledges his party's leader, Justin Trudeau, isn't as popular this time round. 

Casey's also had to spend time at the doors during this campaign, explaining why his government never followed through on a few big promises Casey himself made to voters in 2015: To return P.E.I. to one employment insurance zone, to bring back home mail delivery in Charlottetown, and to reform the electoral system. 

Casey thinks those broken promises may lose him some votes, but not enough to take him down. 

"I have a full explanation for the efforts I've made with respect to each of them," he said.

"When I hear that, I have a document I give to [voters] that outlines all the things that have come to P.E.I. under a Liberal government. And I indicate to them we didn't bring absolutely everything. But we did bring a lot, and we brought a lot more than had been brought to P.E.I. under the previous 10 years."

Robert Campbell - Conservative 

The Conservatives are banking on the fact Charlottetown voters are keen to give another party a chance. 

Conservative candidate Robert Campbell — a retired police officer who grew up in the city — says he's spent the campaign pitching a plan to lower taxes and make living in Charlottetown more affordable. 

Steve Bruce/CBC

Campbell said he likes his chances. 

'I think I'm holding my own," he said. "When you have as many undecided, that in a way is a good thing, because normally it would've been decided — they're Liberal. But they're not. They're debating it," he said.

"I think when it comes down to the crunch, when they get behind the curtain, they're going to say, 'we need someone that's going to form government to get rid of the Liberal party,' and we're the only party that can do that."

Darcie Lanthier - Green 

Green Party candidate Darcie Lanthier agrees the Charlottetown race is a battle between two parties — but she said it's the Liberals and Greens duking it out. 

"I think everyone in this riding knows it's a two-way race," said Lanthier. "And we'll either have exactly what we've had for the past 31 years, or we're going to elect the first Green woman ever in Charlottetown."

Steve Bruce/CBC

That's a bold statement from a party that got just five per cent of the vote in Charlottetown four years ago. But Lanthier said a lot has changed since then.

Climate change has become a much greater concern for voters, which she said gives them more reason to take a hard look at the Greens. 

Then there's what happened in the provincial election earlier this year. The Green Party won in three of the six Charlottetown districts.  Overall, the Greens got more votes in the city than any other party. 

Lanthier expects that to translate into success at the federal level. 

"Oh for sure, residents of Charlottetown know they can vote Green and elect a Green," she said. "There's no more illusion that voting Green is a wasted vote. This is not a wasted vote. This is a vote that can elect a candidate."

Joe Byrne - NDP 

The NDP's Joe Byrne is trying to send that same message, along with his pitch for taxing the wealthy and spending more to improve social programs. 

Byrne, the provincial NDP leader, ran federally in Charlottetown in both the 2011 and 2015 elections. Last time, he finished in second behind Casey, with 25 percent of the vote. 

Steve Bruce/CBC

This time around, he's banking on NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh's surge in popularity to help him out. 

Byrne's also relying on his own name recognition to give him an edge. 

"Most people in Charlottetown that pay a bit of attention to politics, I've knocked at their door, they've seen me, or we've had a conversation at some point over those elections, so there's no surprises," he said. 

"Much of the message I'm giving right now in 2019 is also the message I gave in 2011, because things haven't changed enough."

Fred Macleod - Christian Heritage Party 

Fred Macleod insists things have changed too much. That's his motivation for taking his first run at politics, as the candidate for the Christian Heritage Party. 

Macleod, who works at Dundarave Golf Course and volunteers at his church, believes many in Charlottetown would like to see the laws on abortion and same-sex marriage reversed. They're just afraid to speak up. 

Steve Bruce/CBC

"For the most part, people will talk in private about these issues more than they will in the open, especially if they go against the status quo of the day and what's being put out there," he said.

"There's so much being called a bigot. Nobody wants to be called a bigot. I'm hoping people can voice with their pen and convictions of where they stand on these issues."

Unlike the other candidates in the Charlottetown riding, Macleod said he has no expectations of winning.  

But if the race proves to be close, any number of votes for the Christian Heritage Party could have an impact on election night. 

Need help preparing for election day? We've got the information you need. Text "ELECTION" to 22222 for our election toolkit. And if you've still got questions, ask us.

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