During the Interior Provincial Exhibition in Armstrong, I was one of 12 people manning a booth with information about the upcoming federal election.
I did so as an organizer for the Dogwood Initiative, which sponsored the booth, and a member of Renewing Democracy through Co-operation. Both groups are not affiliated with any party, focussing on issues important to us including: improving democracy, more local decision-making power over projects which affect the environment, improving relations with First Nations, restoring Canada’s social safety net, and dealing with climate change. DI is a B.C.-wide organization active for 15 years while RDTC is a new local group focused on the federal election.
We gave out information about the Dogwood questionnaire for B.C. candidates (votebc.ca). All of the local candidates had completed it, except the Conservative, Mel Arnold.
This is in line with the rest of the province with only one of 42 Conservatives filling out the questionnaire. Almost all candidates for the other three parties did so. Many passersby were puzzled or dismayed by the Conservatives’ lack of openness. People wanted information on the 2014 changes in voter registration requirements under the new elections act which make it more difficult for some people to vote.
We encourage everyone to see if they are registered and if not, to register online (www.elections.ca), or at the Elections Canada offices in Vernon and Salmon Arm.
We were struck by both the degree of uncertainty of voting intentions, and the willingness of voters to consider voting for parties for whom they had never before voted.
We carried out an informal poll, where passers-by were encouraged to vote with a spoonful of water in the jar of the party of their choice. We performed the exercise three times over the course of the IPE. In the first result, the Conservatives narrowly beat out the NDP. In the second and third polls, the NDP came out ahead. It’s not a scientific poll, but an indication of the mood of the people who came up to speak with us at the IPE.