2019-10-02

Knocking on doors for votes? Not this federal candidate

by Charles Mandel

While other candidates in the upcoming federal election have their campaign office bases, and are out knocking on doors, at least one individual seeking the MP seat in the South Shore-St Margaret's riding is trying something different.

Jessika Hepburn, who is running federally for the NDP, is foregoing an office, and skipping the door knocking in favour of reaching out to voters with events, community meetings and by connecting in public spaces.

Some of her campaign stops are unconventional, to say the least.

In Mahone Bay on the evening of September 26, she gathered with constituents at Tom Webb's home in Mahone Bay to have a "neighbourly discussion" about climate change. Webb is an adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, and frequent opinion contributor to LighthouseNOW.

And in 48 hours more than 100 people responded to her invitation to a local pop-up climate strike event at Earthshine Gardens and Woodland Bakery in Bridgewater on September 27.

Hepburn told LighthouseNOW that her strategy is to go to the people in their communities and connect with those who are not engaged in the election campaign.

"Instead of a traditional office and focus on door knocking, we are working to engage our communities across the riding to make this election an opportunity to work together to strengthen our democracy and social bonds across the political spectrum."

She noted her campaign is based on her community building work, adding "an election can bring us together as a community."

The biggest issue facing Hepburn in her approach is the sheer size of the riding, which she called "expansive," making it difficult to reach everyone. But she said she's concentrated so far on hitting pockets which otherwise might be overlooked, such as visiting with seniors in Queens County, and reaching out to the Gold River Reserve.

Other events on Hepburn's radar include appearances September 28 at Bridgewater's Afterglow Festival, and Mahone Bay's Scarecrow Festival; and an open-to-the-public "race and politics" dinner party in Mahone Bay on September 29 to discuss everything from "black face" to the fact Hepburn is the only woman of colour running for any party.

On September 30 the candidate will visit schools as part of Orange Shirt Day to raise awareness about the impact of residential schools on Indigenous communities followed by a meet and greet in Black Point.

October 1, Hepburn will take pat in the South Shore Housing Action debate, followed by a "Crafternoon Craft Party" in Lunenburg on October 2, before heading to Liverpool on October 3.

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