Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The doorsteps of Canada Drive

I plan to post everyday about my experiences on the campaign trail, and stand by for Tweets from the Door.

To start, you should know that I like knocking on doors.

Not all politicians do, believe it or not.

One candidate told me she would rather give a speech on a soapbox outside a busy store any day of the week than go door-to-door.

Not me, I’m always curious to see behind the next door.

People are almost always lovely, you’ll be pleased to hear.

In two and a half hours at the doors this afternoon, I only encountered one person who waved me off without saying a word — and he had food in his mouth.

I canvassed a good section of Canada Drive today, in west-end St. John’s.

The street, a central thoroughfare, is near the Village Mall and several kilometres in length.

Most homes have apartments. The driveways are generally clear, although the sidewalks are buried.

It was cold, with a light snow, but the people who answered the doors didn’t seem to mind talking for a moment or two, even though the heat from the home barged past them.

The most common conversation at the door (I can’t help but take notes) was about Stephen Harper.

People don’t like/trust him.

Provincial Tories may have called off the Anybody But Conservative campaign, but the public hasn’t heard the order.

Or they ignored it.

“I’m disgusted by him (Stephen Harper), he has brought politics to a new low. I don’t think he knows what truth is,” said one woman, a senior who described herself as a “traditional” Conservative.

“He (Stephen Harper) can’t even sing a Beatles’ song properly — there’s no heart or soul.”

The woman says she’s voting New Democrat, God love her.

Another man said he’d vote for Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois Party, if he had a candidate here.

The man said he had heard that Stephen Harper would be in St. John’s on Thursday to announce federal funding for the Lower Churchill.

He was pissed that Canada doesn’t have a National Energy Policy whereby NL can transmit power across Quebec.

If you can’t beat the Bloc, join them, the man seemed to say. “We’re not a country,” he said. “We’re a conglomerate of states and unions.”

Another woman stepped out onto the snowy step in flip flops to say she was desperate for a job.

She stopped working at a local call centre on Nov. 12, and her EI claim wasn’t approved until Dec. 22.

A long wait.

She was forced to sell her car and buy a cheaper one, held together with “duct tape.”

She’s applied for dozens of jobs, with no luck.

She doesn’t want to work at another call centre, where she had been employed for 5 years before quitting in November. “People at call centres don’t have any rights,” she said.

She didn’t like Harper either. “Patronizing,” she called him.

One woman said she had enough “crap” from politics, stressing there’s probably more of an Anybody But Conservative campaign on now than ever.

One man carrying a small black dog came straight out and said he won’t be voting NDP because he doesn’t agree with “killing babies or gay marriage.”

He asked me where I stood.

I told him that I’m for a woman’s right to choose (but yes, it’s a complicated and emotional issue) and that people should be free to marry whomever they want.

I walked away thinking he respected my opinion, which is a start.

Another elderly lady said she’d be voting New Democrat — no question.

Her daughter was gay and had to move home to Newfoundland from Alberta because she and her partner had been victimized.

The woman said her daughter’s car had been vandalized.

Which is no way to live.

“It’s good here though,” she said of St. John’s.

There were other complaints: too many stores had moved out of the area; the traffic was too heavy; snow clearing was inadequate; and sidewalks needed to be cleared.

A good day at the doors.

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