Election Season: Door Knocking
Background - Previous articles I’ve written on advocacy in the political realm:
Where it all started: Recapping World Asthma Day on Canada’s Parliament Hill, May 2017
Activate: Meeting Your Representative, May/June 2017
It’s election season (times two) here in Manitoba. As scheduled, we have a federal election coming up on or before October 21, and as not scheduled, the Premier of Manitoba has called an election a year early, to take place on September 10th. I’m going to make a concerted effort not to be political in this post, though many snide remarks are tumbling through my head, but let’s just say I am pulling for the current opposition party and put my ballot in the box on the first day of advance voting.
Volunteering for door knocking for a candidate
Since 2017, I knew I had plans to volunteer when the next election rolled around. Once I learned more about politics, I realized it’s too important to not care about. The issues at stake in both elections are of specific importance to me because I have asthma and other chronic health concerns, and I believe everybody needs the best access possible to the care, services, and medications they need.
Despite the Canadian healthcare system, there are still far too many barriers to accessible care, including costs for medicine and “less essential” health services. So, once my constituency’s provincial candidate was chosen, I dropped an e-mail to the campaign team—my name has already been on the list for federal election volunteers for the party for a while.
Learning the ropes
I found myself walking into what was formerly-a-tailor-shop a few kilometers from my house, the combined party office for two ridings that encompass my area of town. The only hint of the tailor shop is when you’re inside, and can read the backwards lettering of TAILOR on the window, which is covered by candidate signs on the outside.
Once inside I met the team, got a shirt, and spent my first night listening to a dude who’s been doing this stuff for like 30 years as he knocked on people’s doors.
I love door knocking
As I post this, I'm 11 nights, 515 doors and 13 dogs in. I’ve got my spiel down. I’ve come to appreciate those who open the door, look at my shirt, and tell me they are not interested, saving my time. I appreciate the people who hold back their dogs and then let them come say hello to me once I say “Don’t worry, I LOVE dogs.” I appreciate the undecided voting mom who invited me into her backyard to tell her about the platform as she started making supper at 7:30 one evening—she even offered me a seat. I appreciate the conversation I had with a nurse on Friday night, as she first told me she didn’t know who she was voting for, we had a chat about healthcare where she said, “Believe me I know all about it, I’m a nurse,” and through that, she committed her support. I appreciate the babies and toddlers who wave hello and smile at me.
Above all, I appreciate the conversation. While I haven’t directly told any voters why issues relating to healthcare matter so much to me, that may become more of a personal talking point once I hit the doorsteps for the federal election, where national Pharmacare is an issue, in mid-September (or whenever they finally drop the writ. Also I know how to use that in a sentence but have to learn what that means, I’m no expert!). I’m not there to change minds, although it’s nice when a voter says “I’m undecided, tell me more,” and we can have that conversation. I’m there to encourage people who know what they want, and know they want to support this party, out to the advance polls—or at least get out there on election day.
Asthma and door knocking
Meeting many people, and often their pets, and getting a lot of steps in going door to door, there is certainly enough opportunity for asthma triggers to intervene. I’ve not had much trouble thanks to my mainly non-allergic asthma, though I did have to approach a woman smoking on her patio, and of course she wanted to chat—hey, that’s what I’m door knocking for!
In reality, I could have called over another volunteer, but being outside, I knew my secondhand smoke exposure would be brief, and I wasn’t too concerned. I keep my inhaler in my pocket, and so far, I haven’t needed it while out in the neighborhood. There are plenty of triggers about, but I’ve been lucky—and for the most part, the August weather has cooperated, not being too hot, too humid, or too rainy—actually, one of the three days it was intermittently rainy, we canvassed apartment blocks, and the other two were days I wasn’t available.
Making a difference
Knocking on random people’s doors to chat politics isn’t everybody’s thing. But it can be a really important way to make a difference—to hear what people have to say, and to share what matters to you and in your community. Asthma itself isn’t an election issue—but healthcare, health policy, environmental policy, climate change, and even proper funding of education to keep kids safe at school, those issues and more all make a big impact on our health day to day.
That’s why I vote.
And that’s why, this year, I’m doing more than voting, too.
Have asthma inhalers affected your dental health?