Hi, My Name is Chris, and I’m a Politician
I have a confession to make. I’m not like you. I’m not a normal, well-intentioned, benefit-of-the-doubt receiving human.
Of course, I don’t actually believe that. I phrase it that way because when I was first nominated as a candidate for the last federal election, that’s how a lot of my friends reacted. They couldn’t understand it. Running for Parliament wasn’t something people they know did. They couldn’t reconcile the idea of me, the normal guy they knew, liked, and trusted, becoming one of “them.” After all, politicians are all corrupt, lazy, liars, right?
Well, I don’t think so, and I don’t think you should either. I also don’t think the whole democratic process (How are candidates chosen? How do they run their campaigns? What do they say to each other when the mics are turned off?) should be such a mystery. That’s why I’m beginning this serial column. I want to open that up and start those conversations…
After some periods of relatively low political activity over the past year, these past two months have been insane. It’s hard to overstate how exhausting it is to live under constant threat of an election call (as we have under this minority government). The problem is that you can’t create or execute any long-term plans. Instead, you’re constantly getting the bare minimum done in case there’s an election in, say, two weeks. After those two weeks go by you think, “ok, what can I get done in the next two weeks,” and you carry on with a series of short term plans instead of one longterm one. My campaign has been (in various stages of) ready for a campaign “two weeks from now” since early March.
Some candidates are independently wealthy, and can afford to take long periods of time off work to devote themselves to this pre-election planning. Others, like myself, can’t. So, this activity also happens in the context of working a full time job and trying to keep your boss at least somewhat understanding of the fact that, at any moment, you may, without notice, need to ask for a one-month leave of absence (bosses don’t like that).
Of course, I don’t mean to complain. It’s an extremely rewarding experience as well, and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. It’s interesting to note, though, that it’s a lot easier to be an effective candidate if you can afford not to work for a while. (Not to mention the fact that you need to give Elections Canada $1000 cash just to get on the ballot, but that’s another story…) Point is, there are lots of less obvious ways that having money makes you more likely to get elected.
So, that’s what things have been like recently. Now that it looks like a spring federal election is less likely (an election will only happen when either the government or the opposition parties think they have something to gain, and right now none of them do), stuff is settling down a bit (which, ironically, is how I finally found the time to write this post). I would, however, love to continue to share with you what kinds of things I (and other candidates like me) are up to in the lead up to an inevitable election, what’s going on inside our heads, etc. Then, during the campaign, I’ll keep checking in with a “behind the scenes” look at what it’s like to run. I want this to be driven by what you’re interested in though, so lemmie know your questions. I’ll try and answer them in future posts.