I thought that the series of federal candidate meetings we had here last week would allow me to do one of two things: either conjure up a enthusiastic endorsement of one of the candidates, or, at least, to write at some length about the candidates and their ideas.

I find myself unable to do either.

I think, in my heart of hearts, I wanted the candidates to fall into the stereotypes I had pre-assigned them. I wanted Will McFadden to be a lunatic. Or to be some sort of Green Trudeau. I wanted Dody Crane to appear muddled and beholden to big labour. I wanted Darren Peters to be the devil. And I wanted Shawn Murphy to appear irrelevant and worthy of casting aside.

Alas, none of the candidates matched my stereotypes.

Will was neither a lunatic nor an Ubermensch: he was an enthusiastic, well-spoken environmentalist one-worlder who had been asked to run, and accepted.

Dody was smart, and passionate. She’s a True Believier in what the NDP stands for, and she’s back for her fifth election because she thinks she can make a difference.

Darren appeared to be more sympathetic to the Greens than to his own party, and wasn’t at all devil-like. He reminded me of myself (albeit with more musical ability, family connections, and facial hair).

Shawn convinced me that he’s a hard-working guy who understands that it takes a long time to get things done, and that he has the patience to see things through. He came across as scrupulously honest, and although he’s very much a Team Martin player, he was willing, at times, to poke holes in the platform.

In the end, I’m no further ahead, decision-wise, than I was before.

I suppose it’s time now to dig into the party platforms and see what the meat of each party’s ideas looks like.

Policy and platforms aside, here’s some anecdotal evidence of our sessions:

Will bought his snazzy green suit at Value Village. He walked in, picked it off the rack, and it fit. During his time in the military, he went overseas to Bosnia, where he had something of an epiphany, and realized he wanted to work on the peace side of the equation, not the war side. He lives in his van, which has solar powered Christmas lights.

Darren is an accomplished folk singer, no doubt due his Carmichael roots. He’s anti-choice on abortion, but pro-legalization of marijuana. He considers himself a progressive. His campaign vehicle is a Toyota Highlander; it gets 27 mpg in city driving.

Dody truly believes there are good people and bad people in the world, and she has no fear of pointing of which are which. She seems to take the existence of the Greens as a personal affront, even more so the notion that someone on the left would consider voting for them. When the new office building on the boardwalk in Charlottetown opens, her law office will be located just under the giant heart window. Her campaign vehicle is a VW New Beetle; it gets 27 mpg in city driving, the same as Darren’s.

Shawn spends 36 weeks of the year in Ottawa. He leaves Charlottetown every Sunday, spends Monday through Thursday in Ottawa, returns to town for a full day of constituency work on Fridays, and repeats. On principle, he doesn’t use his accumulated Aeroplan miles himself: he donates them to efforts like flying a student up to Ottawa each session to tape a TV program.

That’s simply a collection of the enduring images; there was 6 hours of conversation in and around all of that, and I think all in attendance learned a lot. Thanks to all the candidates for attending; I think everyone, candidates included, came away thinking that that this is how politics should be done.

Based on the success of our meetings, we’ve made a tentative decision to carry on our “Sessions at 84” series of informal meetings, expanding our scope beyond the political; think of it as Zap Your PRAM without the lasagna. Watch this space for details.


Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on June 9, 2004 - 18:37 Permalink

If Shawn is giving his Aeroplan miles away, has he found a way around their rules, is he keeping it in the family, is he getting preferential treatment, or is there a loophole I’ve missed? “Aeroplan members have the opportunity to claim rewards for members of their immediate family only (spouse, common-law spouse, same-sex partner, children, adopted children, grandchildren, step-children, parents, grandparents, step-parents, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, fathers-in-law, mothers-in-law, half-brothers and half-sisters).”

Alan's picture
Alan on June 9, 2004 - 19:39 Permalink

Even if politics should be done that way, it would require a Parliament of 177,892 members each representing small numbers that could attend such small meetings. You are privileged to have that experience.

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on June 9, 2004 - 23:20 Permalink

I suggest it is the pols who are privileged to have had the experience.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 10, 2004 - 01:00 Permalink

Did they have any choice? I don’t think you would get 30 such gatherings. 20? 10?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 10, 2004 - 01:57 Permalink

There are about 20,000 electors in the Charlottetown riding. That means there are about 1,666 groups of a dozen electors. Spending an hour with each of those groups would take 208 days, if you assume an 8 hour day with no breaks.

Rusty's picture
Rusty on June 10, 2004 - 12:41 Permalink

The Power of the Blog is demonstrated. All those politicians knew they HAD to do a session at 84 Fitzroy or risk getting written about as unresponsive or as a luddite in about 5 or 6 blogs written by local voters and read by a few hundred other voters. In PEI, the ridings are so small that 5 or 6 people writing and talking negatively about you could be the kiss of death of your a politician. In other areas, most people never even see their MP, the politicians rarely go campaigning door to door like they do here. PEI voters are lucky to have such ready access to politicians, but the downside is that politicians can become overly beholden to narrow interests.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 10, 2004 - 13:46 Permalink

You read my mind, Rusty.

Robert  Paterson's picture
Robert Paterson on June 10, 2004 - 19:46 Permalink

Thank you Pete and the SOB’s for a real service

Charlie's picture
Charlie on June 11, 2004 - 06:54 Permalink

Did anyone else lose track after, “He lives in a van, which has solar powered christmas lights?”

Is it down by the river by any chance?

al's picture
al on June 11, 2004 - 13:59 Permalink

I’d frankly be disappointed if a green party candidate _didn’t_ live in a solar powered van.

Shawn Murphy's picture
Shawn Murphy on June 11, 2004 - 19:35 Permalink

Hello Everyone,

Good question about the Aeroplan points. As I mentioned at 84 Fitzroy, I use my points for constituency business such as flying a high school student to Ottawa each year, and flying a guest speaker to Charlottetown for the Lebanese New Year events. I have never had a problem booking tickets for these people using my Aeroplan points.

However, I checked with Aeroplan, and indeed Derek is technically right: the Aeroplan members

Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on June 12, 2004 - 03:38 Permalink

Thanks Shawn for the Aeroplan info, that’s useful to know.

JJ's picture
JJ on June 15, 2004 - 17:38 Permalink

I love the fact that Will lives in a van with solar powered Christmas lights. I don’t care where he lives or what he does for a living. He seems to be a great guy who is very honest about why he is running and as a young adult myself I decided that I would be voting Green no matter who was running. The young people of this Country need to start making choices and using the power of their vote to promote change.