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Chasing the disaffected
There's a break in the rain and the cherry blossoms smell like heaven; people are dashing between stores and SUVs in order to avoid the weather.
BC Conservative candidate Ian McLeod and his team are handing out leaflets to shoppers outside the Safeway in Caulfeild, West Vancouver, and taking shelter near the recycling. It's not the first time they've been there, the previous weekend they found themselves sharing the shopping mall with Liberal candidate Jordan Sturdy.
"Very nice man," McLeod says.
But today they're on their own and they attract a sporadic drip-drip of voters. Some are definitely interested in what they have to sell. One, a lawyer in rumpled weekend clothes, tells them he is an unhappy Liberal and sticks around for 15 minutes.
"I'm going to vote Conservative. I'm a little upset," he tells McLeod. "You know what I'm talking about."
"Oh yeah," replies McLeod.
The candidate tells him that both the NDP and the BC Liberals are left-wing and reels out the clichés that tend to stick when voters are disaffected by the larger parties: fat cat bureaucrats, bloated bureaucracies, government spending, spending, and more spending, especially in Premier Christy Clark's tenure of the last two years, "leading to an $11 bn debt.
Ryan Warawa, McLeod's campaign manager, tells the lawyer that he, too, was once a Liberal Party member and that the Conservatives believe that the MLA is the constituents' voice, not the party's.
I ask McLeod about voter engagement in West Vancouver; out of all the candidates this year he is the only one to have been in two previous provincial election campaigns.
He thinks about it and responds: "It's not like people in East Vancouver who are more disenfranchised, maybe. People here have more invested, they are more engaged voters..."
A few minutes later and more leaflets have been handed out and others refused by firm but polite grocery shoppers whose votes will obviously go elsewhere. One man leaves Safeway with his daughter. He takes a leaflet but adds, "I'm a card-carrying Liberal."
I watch the man after he is out of sight from McLeod and his party. He passes two garbage bins; the leaflet makes it to his car.
10 Questions with Ian Macleod:
- Name one thing we don't know about you:
I was an environmental monitor in California for the clean air requirements in regards to gasoline quality.
- Describe yourself in three words:
Energetic, compassionate, savvy.
- Describe this riding in three words:
Natural, breathtaking, beautiful.
- Apart from politicking, what do you most like to do?
Outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, biking, soccer, hockey, kayaking.
- What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Doing something in your life that benefits all of our society. Being at peace with yourself and others.
- What books do you have on your bedside table?
The Shack by William Paul Young, An Eastern European travel guide by ???, and Mickey D's.
- What is your greatest achievement to date?
Graduating from San Francisco State University.
- Tell us about what you got up to on your last non-work/non-campaigning outing in this riding.
Snowshoeing at Cypress Mountain.
- Which living person do you most admire?
- What is your motto?
Government can't solve the problems because government is the problem.