Saturday, March 23, 2019
The weekends are usually less busy than weekdays during an election period, but they are prime days for door knocking. And that’s how I spent my afternoon.
When you’re at the doors, some people will talk. They might be interested in what you have to say, but sometimes, they have something on their mind they just can’t hold back.
Strathmore is an town that people generally consider to be a conservative riding. 25 minutes east of Calgary on Highway 1, it’s the last place you’ll drive through until Brooks, although you’ll pass a few villages along the way.
My companion on this day was someone I disagree immensely with, politically. He is also, however, someone I have spent some time with, had conversations with and don’t dislike on a personal level. Most of the time. He is brash, he is blunt, and sometimes I’ve wanted to throw rotten tomatoes at him when his acting is particularly loathsome.
He is also strong-willed, does his research, and I don’t doubt for a second that he truly loves the people here and enjoys representing them. I stood beside Derek Fildebrandt.
Full disclosure: My views align more with the Alberta Party but there’s a real possibility that Derek Fildebrandt is the person who can beat the UCP in my riding; and I’ll be voting for that person.
We hit the doors just after 12:00. Within the first 10 houses, we had found one lady who had been waiting for him and needs to send a mail-in ballot, three people who took signs, one person who was voting UCP and an NDP supporter. But it was at another house that I heard the most interesting things.
“What is your stance on GSAs?” She asked.
Then she told us a story. “We were raised in conservative households, we were socially conservative as well. We had the luxury of those issues not affecting us; until we didn’t.”
She went on to say that she’s more than concerned about what Kenney is bringing with him.
“He scares me.” She said.
Conversely, one neighbour was unimpressed with Derek’s public denouncement of how Kenney had brought himself “closer to the heart of the Catholic church”. Derek explained that while social views don’t preoccupy him, he thought what Kenney did was cruel. The potential voter agreed. He had lost faith in Kenney to represent him because of the walk out on Bill 9. Fildebrandt, he told us, was likely getting their vote because he showed up. Go figure.
One thing about Derek’s libertarian views is that he can say the exact same thing to a social progressive as he can to a social conservative: he believes it isn’t his, or the government’s, business.
There was a woman who said she felt the carbon tax was a good thing. “We need to clean up our mess” she offered.
Another woman closed the door as soon as he introduced himself.
Her neighbour had a Union Jack license plate on his pickup.
He knew who Derek was as we walked up the driveway. We said hello to his wife and daughter and their dog. It was sunny but it’s still March. They were enjoying a Saturday afternoon in the heated garage/lounging area.
We talked with him for a bit. He, an electrician, had been unemployed for about 18 months. He recently obtained a role as the head electrical engineer for 10 solar farms being built from here to the U.S. border and he would never vote NDP. His neighbour, he told us, had farmed for years in the area and moved in after selling the land a year or so ago.
“I can’t believe she’s NDP,” he exclaimed, “a farmer!”
Derek blamed me for sending out some sort of leftist vibe. “I’ve never seen so many NDP supporters” he told me. At that point we had identified three.. In Strathmore, apparently, that’s a lot.
Fildebrandt still has support in the area. Of all the doors we knocked on, only one said they wouldn’t vote for him because of 2017, only one claimed to support the UCP and only two NDP supporters said they wouldn’t vote anything but. We had a list of people taking lawn signs and picked up new volunteers.
What I found the most enlightening is that a lot of people have been following what’s been going on in provincial politics. I didn’t find that when I door knocked in Sylvan Lake for the by-election last summer. The question will be, do they like, or dislike, what they’re hearing?
I will be on the doors with the AP candidate as well and see what the responses are like.
I’m going to work for candidates I think are worth sending to Edmonton on my behalf. I’m going to #ChooseMyAlberta.
24 sleeps until Election Day…
Twitter: @Mitchell_AB, @thisweekinAB