I am exhausted! But I’m also having a wonderful time meeting people, and learning a lot from various groups and individuals. Who knew campaigning could be so educational?
On Tuesday, April 14th I was on CBC Radio’s “Early Edition” with Liberal candidate Kash Heed and NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu. It went very well for me, as I got my message across without resorting to attacking the other parties. Later that evening I attended the Vancouver School Board meeting at Mount Pleasant Elementary School, and listened to the concerns that teachers and parents have about cutbacks in education programs and the elimination of Vice Principal positions. I learned quite a bit about the way the VSB works and what the concerns are amongst the schooling community.
Wednesday the 15th started with a press conference at City Hall with BC Green Party candidates from the Metro Vancouver area. The focus was on BC-STV, the voting reform referendum, and we got a lot of press coverage from it (read and watch the CBC French TV coverage by clicking here). Afterward, I went to the Vancouver Police Board meeting. I attended to hear about policing reports, initiatives, and residents’ questions about the Vancouver Police’s handling of the Paul Frank death over a decade ago (which was the issue being discussed at that particular meeting).
The Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, is also the Chair of the Police Board and it was a good opportunity for me to speak to him again since my first introduction to His Worship at the Vaisakhi parade. Police Chief Jim Chu was also there, and after the meeting I talked to him about how I hope to help police regain confidence and respect from the community by ending prohibition! A handsome young man named Jason McLean introduced himself after the meeting; he is a member of the Police Board, and once worked for Prime Minister Jean Chretien. I let him know that I was interested in being more engaged in politics and appreciated the opportunity to attend the meeting (though the meetings are always open to the public – I just felt it was polite to thank him for helping to educate me about policing issues.)
On Thursday the 16th, my husband Marc and I went to the riding next to mine and helped collect signatures for the BC Green candidate Doug Warkentin. We got 18 in two hours, and met a number of people from my riding as well.
Friday the 17th started with an interview on News 1130, a radio station in Vancouver, about my election campaign. At noon I attended the “Women for BC-STV” event at the downtown YMCA. It was a great intimate event with engaged and concerned women, and the panel included a politician from Scotland, where the MMP system (Mixed Member Proportional representation) is used. I met Shoni Fields again, one of the leading proponents for STV and a member of the Citizens’ Assembly that recommended the STV voting system for British Columbia. Also on the panel was Judy Rebick, a CBC Newsworld commentator, author, and past President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Jennifer Sweeney, the President of the Canadian Women Voters Congress, congratulated me for getting involved in politics as a young woman.
I took a break on the weekend to clean my apartment, do errands, and prepare for the next week ahead. But on Monday the 20th I was back on the campaign trail, starting with a filmed interview by Fairchild TV. I set up my sign in my riding, handed out pamphlets, and answered questions from the reporter about why I am running in Vancouver-Fraserview and what I can do for the community (watch the interview by going to the “April 20 Fraserview Profile” video here). It went very well, but then I had to rush off to the Vancouver Art Gallery for one of the biggest rallies held in Canada: “420”, April 20th, the worldwide day for celebration of the cannabis culture. I attend every year’s event, so this year would be no different, but I also had my signs, pamphlets, and 420-specific “Vote Green!” handouts available, and got hundreds of people to take my election buttons. I used my speaking time to encourage everyone to vote for the BC Green Party to help end prohibition. BC Green candidate for Vancouver-West End, Drina Read, joined me and gave out hundreds of Vote Green hand outs. The crowd of 5,000-8,000 people made for an enormous audience receptive to political messaging; it was a beautiful (and packed!) day downtown. BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk was at an Education in BC forum across town and at 10 pm I met up with her and other BC green candidates for a late dinner at Earl’s in Yaletown.
On Tuesday the 21st I went to Kingsford-Smith Elementary School to meet with the teachers there during lunch break, as all candidates in the riding were invited to do – but I was the only one who showed up! However, I was grateful for the focused attention, and was happy to listen to their opinions about the education system. They loved the BC Green Party’s answers to the questionnaire they had sent out to all parties, and asked me more about what I would do for schooling if elected. I let them know that, as a young candidate, I was still learning a lot and appreciated their thoughts and concerns, which helped me build some knowledge about the problems educators face today. I then went to visit two classrooms once lunch break was over, and enjoyed meeting the grade 6 and 7 students who truly are the future of BC. That evening I went to the Fraserview Library for a BC-STV meeting, which was very intimate with only four local residents in attendance, but they were all very interested about voting reform and even expressed hope that the BC Greens would get to win some seats in the Legislature. One of my most enthusiastic supporters thus far, Raj, also attended and was kind enough to drive me back to work afterwards.
Finally, today on Wednesday the 22nd, I began by doing a video interview with Dana Gee of “The Province” newspaper for her new video segment (DGTV) on the Province website. She met me at the Vancouver Art Gallery after 11am, and we did a casual but informative interview about various topics such as why I’m running for the BC Greens, and how ending prohibition would benefit society and end a lot of the problems associated with drugs. After that interview I stayed at the Art Gallery because at noon the BC Green Party was holding a press conference for Earth Day! Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May was there, as was Adrianne Carr (the Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada and former leader of the BC Green Party) and current BC Green leader Jane Sterk. Most of the Vancouver-area candidates also took part, and every media outlet was there to film, photograph and record the event. The microphone and speakers were powered by two electricity-generating bicycles that people rode to keep the sound system working, and a band played music for the many people who showed up to celebrate Earth Day with the BC Greens. It was an excellent event of solidarity and enthusiasm for helping keep our planet healthy and safe!
But the final event of the day for me was the weekly meeting of the Vancouver Fraserview Rotary Club. I had contacted them to ask if I could attend one of their meetings, and they let me know I would be allowed to sit in on the meeting but could not speak, as Rotary Clubs don’t want to be captive audiences for every political candidate to come preach to during election campaigns. I said I understood and would still like to attend just to get a feeling for the local issues, and they welcomed my presence. When I showed up, the group of twelve gentlemen was intrigued by my willingness to listen and not use the event for political advantage, so they let me have a few words regardless of the rules. I spoke shortly about gang violence (as it impacts the area and the Punjabi youth moreso than other areas or cultures) and how ending prohibition would help stop the violence.
They were all nodding in agreement as I spoke, all but one gentleman – but then his son Kam Brar came in, the NDP candidate for Richmond Centre! His father wanted him to attend once he heard I would be there, so they also let him speak, but it was so strongly political, complete with attacks against the Liberals and speech-like references to what the Liberals have done wrong and what the NDP would do right. I had spoken to the issues, but he was speaking politically, and I’m not sure it went over as well. However, it was interesting to hear from another party, and I’m grateful the Rotary Club let us both have a say. The NDP candidate asked members to attend his fundraiser the next night, then he left – but I stayed to participate in a Tai Chi exercise that they were all learning from one of the members. It was interesting to learn, and felt very good, actually! I thanked them all for letting me attend, and received business cards from three members. I hope I made a good impression on them!
So that’s been my busy schedule lately, and there’s a lot more planned. My election signs are being printed soon, and I’m redesigning my pamphlet for a mail-out version that will go to every home and business in my riding – 21,997 pamphlets exactly. Then I’ll be out knocking on doors and meeting the constituents that I hope to represent after the May 12th election!
April 22nd Election Blog from http://www.JodieForMLA.ca