One morning, in the early fall, I woke up with a sense of nervous anticipation for the day ahead. I had no idea what to expect except for the images that movies had implanted in my mind. I arrived at the campaign office, a retired restaurant, and was greeted by a smiling, friendly man. He explained that he had been canvassing GO Train Stations since 5 AM. Amazingly, he was still happy and chipper! Everyone in the campaign office was incredibly welcoming and they were all flabbergasted by the fact that this is my first campaign ever. My new friend quickly outlined the aims of the campaign, some laws to abide by while working at the office and introduced me to the fellow volunteers and staffers. Thus far, politics was proving to be far friendlier than I ever imagined!
My first task of the day was answering the phone for the campaign. I was briefed on the proper way in which I should answer the phone, how to direct calls (primarily to the campaign manager) and how to address certain issues. The number of calls that a campaign receives on a given day from regular voters is staggering, as is the content of some of the questions people call in with. After this, I began the most interesting and exciting part of my day; I was given the opportunity to canvas neighbourhoods and help to ‘get out the vote’. During this experience, I was exposed to a vast array of political opinions and learned about the importance of door-to-door canvassing. I met with some people who were very interested and who I sought to bring onside for our candidate and I also met with other people who were completely disenchanted by the entire political process and who chose to abstain from any type of political involvement.
My two-day experience working on the campaign was a whirlwind adventure in the world of political campaigns and I learned many things including how much fun elections are to work on and how much more accessible this process is than I ever imagined. The time I spent working with the election volunteers helped provide me with insight into what makes our leaders tick and increased my understanding of our democratic process.
Now, having spent a week with the CJPAC Fellows in Ottawa hearing from distinguished speakers and a cross-section of elected officials from across the political spectrum, my appreciation for our political process has only grown. I am very much looking forward to applying the learning from my short time working on the campaign and my experience at the Fellowship to challenges I face in the future, personally and professionally.
Until next time,