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Discovering a love of campaigning
I'm offered a small orange with a green heart sticker on it by the NDP's Ana Santos; she says she has been handing them out. It's a kind of a citrusy aide memoire to remind people that Santos, the founder of Squamish Climate Action Network, has a green core in the heart of her own personal Orange Crush, the symbol of NDP ascendancy made famous in the 2011 federal election by Jack Layton.
May 14 will be the first time Santos herself will vote in a provincial election after moving to Canada from Spain in 2004 and becoming a Canadian citizen in 2010. I ask her if exercising her franchise to vote while simultaneously hoping to represent everyone else is something her friends and family in Bilbao would be surprised by, she says no, because she has always been someone to get involved, even back in the days when she protested bullfighting.
She is at the Whistler Community Services (WSC) building in Spring Creek, there for a tour and a conversation about social services at the resort. Santos has spent a lot of time meeting regional groups and associations, from the Canadian Bar Association to the Lil'wat First Nation, to learn more about constituents. She tells me she will spend the rest of the campaign going door-to-door meeting voters at home.
Claire Mozes of the WCS takes Santos around and answers questions about food bank use, work health and safety, employment, seniors' facilities at the resort, the community garden, child care, the Howe Sound Women's Centre and Sea to Sky Community Services, with whom they share the building, and more.
Mozes says she sees the stresses on society every day.
"It's like a broken record," she tells Santos.
"It's not going to be a broken record for much longer!" Santos replies.
Santos loves being on the campaign trail and says she wishes it would last longer because it is a "great opportunity" to get to know West Vancouver-Sea to Sky better. She says she would like to see more collaboration between community groups within the riding.
"The hope is to win the election and then find out what is really going on and I'm trying to learn the stories of people now. I wish the campaign lasted until after the summer, there is this intensity to finding out what is going on," Santos says.
She doesn't have a single campaign manager. Instead, she has a group of supporters who tag-team to share the duties. On this particular visit, Linda Kelly-Smith — a volunteer with the Squamish Climate Action Network — is present. Kelly-Smith knows that thanks to high poll numbers it is expected that the NDP will form a majority in Victoria, but in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky things are less certain for the NDP. Still, they keep at it.
"You get energized when you go out with Ana and you realize why we're here. It's not going to be an easy election to win but she reminds us why we're here," Kelly-Smith says.
10 Questions With Ana Santos:
- Name one thing we don't know about you:
Many out there seem worried that government will change the colour of my hair. Stop worrying; my hair has been white for almost 10 years now.
- Describe yourself in three words:
Hungry for action
- Describe this riding in three words:
Ready for action
- Apart from politicking, what do you most like to do?
Cooking and sharing Spanish paella with both friends and strangers.
- What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It's different every day. Today, and this time of year, it is the simple ability to smell the cottonwoods in the air.
- What books do you have on your bedside table?
Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel García Marquez; Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck and Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block.
- What is your greatest achievement to date?
Becoming a fully engaged Canadian citizen.
- Tell us about what you got up to on your last non-work/non-campaigning outing in this riding.
I converted my car to run on waste veggie oil collected from the riding's restaurants.
- Which living person do you most admire?
I have no heroes. I most admire the people around me who have the positive strength and the selfless determination to change the world for the better.
- What is your motto?
Each day requires a new motto.