They are up early and working well into the night but that’s the job if you’re a volunteer or candidate for the upcoming federal election in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam.
For months leading up to today’s announcement that Canada’s 43rd federal election is underway, workers have been busy supporting their candidate, and getting out the vote for what could be a tight race.
“Interest is definitely started now with the writ dropping, people are coming by our office to say ‘Hi’,” said Tyson Schofield, campaign manger for Liberal Sara Badiei, whose office is located at 2337 Clarke St. Port Moody.
While campaign officials are busy planning and recruiting volunteers, it’s the candidates who are centre stage, yet they often find themselves doing some of the work done usually by volunteers.
On Wednesday, Badiei was, for example, helping to put up signs in designated areas of Port Moody where signs are allowed; in Coquitlam, they can’t be put up until Sept. 21.
For New Democrat candidate Bonita Zarrillo, the campaign has been underway for months and the three-term Coquitlam councillor was hard at it as early as 6:30 a.m., Wednesday, said campaign manager Michelle Steele, with a meeting at the campaign office at 3032 St. Johns St., Port Moody.
Steele said working with Zarrillo is made easier by the fact that she has a profile in the city. “She’ll be at a grocery store and people will recognize her, we’re pretty lucky in that regard.”
Besides signs, volunteers are out with the candidate knocking on doors, and phoning people to confirm support. But Steele said there is no surprises, because a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes.
“We haven’t been waiting for the writ to drop,” she said.
The Conservative campaign is also well underway, said campaign manager Fritz Radandt, who said his candidate, Nelly Shin was busy knocking on doors.
Today, door-knocking is even more important, even in this electronic age, said Radandt, because people don’t answer their phones. Face-to-face contact with voters is now the best way to connect, he said, and volunteers have an app now with the addresses of registered voters.
Once a potential voter is identified, the volunteer clicks a button on the app and then moves on to the next house. “It’s made it a lot easier to identify the vote,” sad Radandt, noting that the information is critical on Election Day to ensure supporters cast a ballot.
Another challenge facing volunteers is getting into apartment buildings, something that is particularly important in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam where more people live in condos.
Radandt said people are often suspicious of election workers, even if they do manage to get into a building, and it would be a help if Elections Canada would send out literature to apartments informing them of election law that allows political parties access for providing voter information.
“If Elections Canada could do a blitz to apartments — and say ‘hey during election time candidates or their reps might be by, don’t be alarmed, that would help,” Radandt said.
But for now, volunteers are out in full force, along with candidate Nelly Shin, and everyone is working on a single goal, he said.
“I think every election they say it’s the most important ever, but yeah the excitement has picked up. There are very clear issues this time… the next 39 days you’re going to see those regular people much more engaged.”
Shin’s Conservative campaign office is located at 552 Clarke Road, Unit 105.
Meanwhile, Green Party’s Bryce Watts will be working with Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam Green Party candidate Brad Nickason on his campaign. More information is available at www.brycemwatts.com
The national stage
Justin Trudeau kicked off the 2019 election campaign Wednesday with his party in a dead heat with the Conservatives, each with 33.8% of the vote, according to a CBC online poll tracker that is said to aggregate all publicaly available polling data
At the same time, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh launched his campaign in London, Ont. at a time when the party has slipped below 12.9% support, has had problems raising money and has failed to run a full slate of candidates.
“That’s not the best showing for a major competitive party, especially one that was once talked about as winning in 2015,” said Gerald Baier, a professor of political science at UBC.
Just yesterday, Kamloops NDP candidate Dock Currie was asked to withdraw his candidacy in the Kamloops-Thomson-Cariboo riding after he was said to have made controversial posts on social media to a pipeline supporter.
The Green Party, meanwhile, has managed to hold on to its growing support — the party is currently polling at 10.7% — despite recent controversy surrounding the position of two Green candidates on abortion. And while the party has been able to run candidates across the country, the lack of funding and a robust infrastructure to recruit and vet candidates means the party is relying on many new-to-politics people, says Baier.
The Liberals enter the 40-day campaign with their leader flying directly to Metro Vancouver. For Baier, that’s no surprise. B.C. is shaping up to be one of the key battlegrounds this election.
“We had pretty tight ridings last time around,” said Baier. “All three parties are counting on winning back their seats and stealing others.”
Each of the three major challengers is looking to capitalize on other parties’ missteps: the Conservatives on the Liberal’s track record over SNC Lavelin, pipeline politics, and election reform; the Greens on what they say is the Liberals' failure on climate change and the NDP’s sinking support; and the NDP on the housing and affordability crisis under the Liberals' watch.