KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The main reason I wanted to volunteer for a candidate in the last provincial election was to gain work experience. Of course there are lots of other opportunities to do so, however I felt volunteering during an election campaign would make me better at advocating for my cause of reducing poverty.
Before we go on I want to remind readers of an article I once wrote for the Nova Scotia Advocate. This article is titled Being on income assistance is work experience. My reason for wanting to go back to this article is because here I talk about the value of gaining work experience in general terms.
I ended up volunteering for the Lisa Roberts campaign in Halifax/Needham. I was invited by a representative of Gary Burrell to volunteer in his campaign for Halifax/Chebucto. However I choose to volunteer for Lisa’s campaign, because I live in her area and I thought it would make sense to volunteer for the one who is running where I live, and also so I know on election day that is who I would be voting for.
Even though the NDP had formed a government once already, the message was that this time around, the NDP will be a brand new and much improved NDP. Also the NDP used to support me in my past business of selling the Street Feat Newspaper. I felt that volunteering for the NDP would be a way to return the favour. I also chose NDP because I had lost all trust in the liberals, plus, speaking as a poverty advocate, they are the only party that seems to want to address poverty.
The opportunity came along back in April of 2017 when I got a phone call from a representative of (NDP leader) Gary Burrell, inviting me to attend an event at the Alderney Landing theatre. At this event I met a lot of the NDP candidates running in different areas. At this event Gary Burrell presented the NDP campaign platform. Then the election got called a week or so later.
Volunteering for an election campaign was yet another opportunity to fight my learning disability as well. Every time I find an opportunity in life to fight my learning disability I like taking those opportunities on.
I also decided I wanted to take this opportunity to investigate what a MLA candidate has to go through in order to get elected. I have now learned that the candidate does not run the whole campaign on his or her own.
They hire a campaign manager to run their campaign. While the candidate is out knocking on doors and making contacts with potential voters, other people are also busy. In some ways an election campaign is like running a business. Volunteers are in the office doing the office work, making phone calls introducing the candidate and finding voter contacts, and taking care of whatever else comes up.
In my case I did a bit of everything, except for making phone calls and knocking on doors. So for me personally there was a lot of multi-tasking involved.
In some earlier articles I have written about social isolation and things that need to be done to address it. Working on the campaign has given me the opportunity to meet some good like-minded people, who share my views with me on this type of thing as well as sharing my views on poverty.
I will say this, it was a lot of work, but not all hard work like I thought it might be.
As a result of volunteering I have gotten to know my MLA as a person. Having an opportunity as such to get to know your candidate, and in this case after she got re-elected, I can really help out to get to know the poverty advocates community.
After all, as the poverty advocate, I consider myself the expert that can help her for getting to know the issues relating to poverty she will be expected to advocate for down the road during sittings of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.
Kendall Worth is the chair of the Benefits Reform Action Group (BRAG)
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