Speaking of candidates and ‘expiry dates’

Mitchel Raphael on speaking of candidates and ‘expiry dates’

Abacus Data, Leger Marketing, Ipsos Reid

Mind if we update that Jaffer sign?

Conservative candidate Ryan Hastman is running against NDP incumbent Linda Duncan in what used to be Rahim Jaffer’s riding of Edmonton-Strathcona. While going door-to-door, Hastman campaigners came across one house displaying a Jaffer sign. When they politely offered to “update” it, the homeowner said, “Sure. I’ll take two.” Hastman has been knocking on doors since he got the nomination in 2009. In the early days, people would be confused when he appeared at their door, asking him, “Is there an election?” Before he got the nomination, Hastman was with the PMO, and before that he worked for Stockwell Day, whose advice to him was to get a good pair of running shoes and to stand on the side of the road the day after the election with a big “thank you” sign. While going door-to-door, Hastman met a senior with a walker, who after he was given a Conservative brochure with pictures of all the opposition leaders, snapped: “That Layton is using a cane for effect.” Hastman told the man that, in fact, the NDP leader had recently had hip surgery.

Hastman’s campaign office is next door to a place that offers hot air balloon rides, while Duncan’s is in what used to be an animal rehabilitation clinic with an underwater treadmill. NDP supporter Phyllis Harlton bakes the office a “cookie of the day.” One of the most popular ones has a Rolo in the middle of it.

Both Conservative and NDP camps acknowledge that the Liberals in this riding are putting in minimal effort. Duncan says the Liberals are in fact supporting her because they know she can win again (there was even a fundraiser for her hosted by Liberals). There is a Liberal candidate, though: it’s 20-year-old Matthew Sinclair, a university student who missed the riding debates because he had exams.

Ambrose’s lucky ‘bling’

Rona Ambrose is sporting her good luck “bling,” as she calls it. The Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, who were battling for the Doyle Cup for a chance to go to the national championships, gave the Conservative candidate a special Saints championship ring they turned into a necklace as a good luck charm for the election. Spruce Grove is in Ambrose’s riding. When she recently went to visit the players, they had all bleached their hair blond, their version of growing a playoff beard.

Picking up women and votes

Winnipeg Conservative Steven Fletcher owes his sister Julia Fletcher big-time. She came over from Britain to help with his campaign even though she had booked a hotel in London for the upcoming royal wedding. Her three-year-old daughter, Evelyn Sieman, came with her and enjoys sticking campaign Post-it notes up and sliding brochures under doors. Fletcher was recently chatting with voters in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park where a gardener told Fletcher he had a beef with his calendar. It has a picture of Fletcher in the picturesque gardens but the photo is black and white and fails to show off the spectacular colour. While campaigning at the Manitoba Eastern Star Chalet seniors’ apartment complex, Fletcher noted there were a lot more women present than men. “If I knew my odds were 10 to one, I would have spent more time here,” joked Canada’s first quadriplegic MP. “If any of you want to meet a young man with his own wheels, then pick up my brochure and my number is right there.”

‘You still look beautiful’

One of the biggest campaign boosts for Winnipeg Liberal MP Anita Neville was Conservative MP Shelly Glover referring to her as having “passed her expiry date.” At one door a man told her, “You still look beautiful,” and she received plenty of other compliments because of the remark. One volunteer even made Neville T-shirts that said: “Not past my expiry date.” The “not” was made to look like it had been added in, a jab at Bev Oda.

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