Stephen Harper gets cheers, some jeers, while in Windsor

Two very different kinds of people greeted Stephen Harper as the Conservative leader made a pair of campaign stops in the Windsor area on Sunday.

Backers, opponents compete for attention during Windsor-area events

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was greeted at the Windsor airport on Sunday morning by local Tory candidate Jeff Watson and his family (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Two very different kinds of people greeted Stephen Harper as the Conservative leader made a pair of campaign stops in the Windsor area on Sunday.

The ones carrying blue-coloured signs hope that Harper will lead the Conservatives to a fourth term of government, while most of those with homemade signs hope voters will lead him to seek a new line of work.

In the morning, Harper travelled to Crest Mold Technology, a business located on the outskirts of the city in Oldcastle, Ont. He was making the trip to take part in some pictures for the campaign.

But reporters who attended the photo op also saw the potential images across the road, where a small group of people were standing with signs and a large banner that criticized his record in government and called for his defeat.

Protesters gathered on Sunday morning in Oldcastle, Ont., across the street from where Harper was making a campaign stop. (Geoff Nixon/CBC)

Margaret Villamizar, the Marxist-Leninist candidate in Windsor West, was helping to hold up a long banner that said "STOP HARPER."

Asked why she was participating in a protest outside Harper's photo op, Villamizar said she was among many voters who don't want him back in the driver's seat after this October.

"There's so many things that Canadians, I think, have a reason to want to have Harper stopped," Villamizar said. "And during the election, it's an important time for people to take action now to make sure that happens."

Harper campaigns in Windsor, Ont. on Sunday. He promised the creation of a manufacturing technology demonstration fund that would take effect in 2017. (Geoff Nixon/CBC)

Rita Demers, a fervent Harper supporter, stood on the other side of the road from Villamizar, both literally and figuratively.

Demers had gone to the Oldcastle event in hopes of seeing the Conservative leader and possibly speaking with him. That wasn't possible as the event wasn't open to the public.

However, she simply wanted to show her support for the job he has done in Ottawa.

"He's not afraid to tell the truth, even though a lot of Canadians don't want to hear it," Demers said.

Blue signs and masked faces

When Harper later made a manufacturing-related announcement at a Windsor manufacturing business, the same two groups of people showed up — but the crowds on both sides were larger than at the earlier photo op.

The group opposed to a renewed Conservative government gathered on the sidewalk outside the Anchor Danly plant on Ouellette Avenue. They had placards, at least a couple wore Guy Fawkes masks and they sought support from motorists passing by the scene.

Windsor police were on hand when Harper was speaking at the city's Anchor Danly plant on Sunday afternoon. (Geoff Nixon/CBC)

Paul Chislett, an activist from Windsor, made a point of standing outside both of Harper's campaign stops on Sunday. He was there, he said, because he stood opposed "to almost every principle" held by the Conservatives.

However, the people inside the plant were mostly Conservative supporters. They literally formed the backdrop as Harper made his announcement about a $100-million fund the Conservatives would establish if they form the next government.

This group cheered when Harper hammered home his points about the record of his government and the need to ensure the Conservatives return to power this fall.

Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 19.

The crowd heads for the exits after Harper spoke at a campaign event in Windsor, Ont., on Sunday afternoon. (Geoff Nixon/CBC)

With a report from the CBC's Joana Draghici


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