Foot soldiers key to Winnipeg North
Liberals, New Democrats count on the personal touch
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/11/2010 (4572 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The walls of Kevin Chief’s McPhillips Street campaign headquarters are papered with the photos of his diverse army of volunteers.
There are teenagers who are too young to vote and 60-some-year-olds who have never voted. There are Filipinos and Indo-Canadians, aboriginal people and citizens of Polish and Ukrainian descent. They hail from the North End, the Maples, Tyndall Park, Amber Trails and Point Douglas.
Chief, the NDP standard-bearer in Monday’s Winnipeg North federal byelection, estimates he has mobilized nearly 400 workers as he seeks elected office for the first time. And the betting is he will need each and every one of them if the New Democrats are going to hang onto the riding outgoing MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis dominated in the 2008 election with 62.6 per cent of the vote.
Wasylycia-Leis resigned the seat after 13 years as an MP to make what proved to be a failed run at the Winnipeg mayor’s chair, prompting Monday’s vote. Two other byelections are being held in the country that day, one in Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, which the Conservatives are rated a shoo-in to retain, and one in the Ontario riding of Vaughan, which has been a Liberal stronghold.
Chief, a political rookie, is facing Liberal Kevin Lamoureux, a strong constituency man and formidable campaigner who has represented 75 per cent of the sprawling federal riding at one time or the other in his 18 years as an MLA. The Liberal hopeful boasts a team of more than 300 volunteers.
The other main contender is Julie Javier, acting executive director of the Philippine Canadian Centre, who has run a low-profile campaign in which she has avoided two all-candidates meetings and ducked media interviews (she only consented to a brief telephone interview for this piece and refused to pose for a photograph, emailing one of herself instead) to concentrate on door-knocking. She said this week she has 10 volunteers working on her campaign.
A loss on Monday would be a body blow for the federal NDP, while a win for the Liberals would give their party a much-needed shot in the arm.
All three major candidates believe crime is the main issue in the riding, which is home to the recent unsolved shooting spree that killed two men and seriously injured a teenage girl.
But the winner may not be the one whose party has the best anti-crime platform or who has received the most visits from federal party stars — Prime Minister Stephen Harper made one brief appearance at Javier’s campaign office; Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has been to the riding four times; and NDP Leader Jack Layton has made it there three times including this weekend. The winner will likely be who has been the most successful at mobilizing volunteers and reaching out to voters who may be growing weary of election campaigns.
“In a byelection, you’re voting for the candidate because it’s not going to change the government,” said Lamoureux, who won more than half the vote in Inkster in the last provincial election. “And the response that I’ve received at the door has been better than in any other election I’ve participated in.”
The career politician is known for his Thursday-evening meet-the-MLA sessions at the McDonald’s restaurant on Keewatin Street (which will turn into a weekly 10 a.m.-to-2 p.m. event on Saturdays if he’s elected an MP).
Besides his sessions under the Golden Arches, he hosts an annual Canada Day constituency picnic, with fireworks, that draws more than 2,000 people.
Chief, known for his work with inner-city youth, has been actively recruiting party members — young and old — who have not participated in elections before, teaching them about the political process and involving them at every step of his campaign.
On the Labour Day weekend, he hosted a family fun day campaign that attracted 4,700 people at the Maples Community Centre that featured the Métis music group, the Gaudry Boys. “We were handing out 1,000 hotdogs per hour,” he said.
KEVIN CHIEF (NDP)
— Born and raised in the North End, attended the University of
Winnipeg on a basketball scholarship. Has a BA with a major
in justice and law enforcement. Working on his master
— Co-ordinator of the Innovative Learning Centre at the University of Winnipeg, which works with inner-city youth. Also serves
as executive director of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport
— Participates in a square dance group, which does community fundraisers. He and wife Melanie have an eight-week-old son, Hayden.
JOHN HARVIE (GREEN)
— A former air frame technician and military instructor with
the Air Force, he has lived in the riding since 1988.
— Does labour market research aimed at helping people transition from the military to other careers due to injury or
illness. Has a diploma in creative communications from Red River College and is completing a BA in communications
at the University of Winnipeg.
— His goal is to double the Green party’s vote percentage
in Winnipeg North to 10 per cent.
JULIE JAVIER (CONSERVATIVE)
— Immigrated from the Philippines in 1970. Has worked for many years in health care as a nurse and a senior critical care monitoring specialist.
— Volunteers with several local organizations and committees, including the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, the
Batangas Association of Manitoba, the Manitoba-Israel Shared Values Roundtable and the Lady’s Knight of Rizal.
— She and husband Mario have two children, Jean-Jacques and Genevieve-Joy.
KEVIN LAMOUREUX (LIBERAL)
— Born in Winnipeg and attended high school in Manitoba
and Saskatchewan. Studied political science at the University
— Served three years with the Canadian Forces in air traffic control.
— Served as a member of the Manitoba legislature for 18 years, resigning his Inkster seat to run in the byelection. Known for his work in helping immigrants settle in Manitoba.
ALSO RUNNING: Jeff Coleman, Pirate Party of Canada;
Frank Komarniski, Communist Party of Canada, Eric Truijen, Christian Heritage Party of Canada.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.