It was Christmas break and my family and my sister’s future in-laws were gathered around our dining room table enjoying wine and political chit chat (we sound so sophisticated don’t we?). It was at that time when my sister brought up the fact that not only had I never voted, I had a brief (and rare) moment of stupidity not knowing who our current premier was. In an effort to defend myself I explained that I had little interest in politics and didn’t feel the need to know the current happenings of our government. Boy, was I unaware of how much that opinion would change in just a couple months. Also… that is extremely embarrassing to me now so take this blog as a sign that I trust you all not to judge me too much.
Come late January, I was still “contract hunting” (I take on contract jobs through my business when not doing weddings) and a friend had told me that a position as campaign assistant with Terry Lake’s election campaign had opened up. I didn’t think I’d get it. Terry was the Minister of Environment, the MLA for Kamloops North Thompson, and the past mayor of Kamloops. A candidate whose resume alone spoke to how great and deserving of a re-election he was. I essentially knew nothing about politics other than my sister loved her time as a campaign assistant and as a constituency assistant (words that might as well have been in Japanese at the time). To give myself a little credit, I’ve worked with many non-profit organizations in Kamloops and have a strong education and portfolio in events given I’m 23… but I’d never even voted. To my surprise, I was hired the next day over a brief 5 minute phone interview and was starting that weekend taking meeting minutes at our monthly board meeting.
And so it began. I called my sister in a panic and said, “Tell me everything you know about politics. And… go.” “Well…,” she said. “You’re going to love it. You’re going to be really busy but this will be great for your career.” And off she went again, speaking Japanese about how the government works, political history, and how the polls were looking rough for us. When I walked into White Spot that Saturday, before I could even introduce myself Terry had already bounced out of his chair and shook my hand saying, “You must be Nicole. Welcome to our team!” As he introduced me to everyone, telling people about the strange coincidence that he had graduated from vet school with my dad and uncle over 25 years ago, I knew I was working for the right candidate. By the time the meeting ended I was determined to learn what the heck they were talking about for those 2 hours. I’m sure my face in that meeting resembled that of a groom sitting in on a meeting with his fiance and wedding planner… the face of being overwhelmed, confused, concerned, and bored all at the same time. I say bored because you don’t go from being unengaged in politics to being fascinated all at once you know.
The next 3 months flew by. I would wake up and read the news every single morning. The more I read the more fun the job became. I’d hear other campaign ads on the radio and scoff knowing how much of a stretch of the truth it was. I’d see campaign signs plaster neighbourhoods and panic making note of where more of ours needed to go. I had “drank the kool-aid” as some might say. We could see and feel the momentum building and it all just made the campaign that much more fun to be a part of. And my sister didn’t lie, it really was the best position to network, learn about the government, and be a part of something huge.
So it all came down to election day! It started with a 7:30am burma-shave (Yes, that is a real word. It means we’re out waving signs like we’re on strike only in a happy get out and vote kind of way.) It followed with minor but incredibly stressful catering hiccups and then we were on to our morning meeting. Terry spoke and thanked us all for our hard work, making us all feel warm and fuzzy. At least I think I felt that way… it was kind of that and a combination of wanting to puke from stress of the results and the amount of Subway I had consumed in the last month. Regardless, the day started and finished quicker than I can make a day-of wedding schedule (surprisingly quick). At 8pm, I had my 5 seconds of fame when a friend texted me from Saskatoon saying I was on TV! I guess the all the cameras at the results event were taping Royce and I frantically posting the poll results as they were called in. She said I looked “focused”. If any of you saw the picture on Kamloops This Week today I’d say I looked more nauseated and scared but I’ll take focused. A mere hour and a half later Terry was declared the winner! I’ve never been so happy, relieved, and grateful in my life. Thank-you SO much to each and every one of you that voted for the BC Liberals, Terry Lake, and Todd Stone. You made me one very happy campaign assistant. And an even bigger thank-you to Terry for running for another 4 years in government, our campaign team, and everyone that volunteered. It’s not easy to call people not knowing if they’ll be happy, hang up, swear at you, or go on ranting about something completely unrelated to your phone call but they’ll continue to keep you on the hook anyhow and end with not being a supporter. It’s also not easy door knocking or burma-shaving when people swear at you or give you the finger… if that’s you right now I’m not happy with you so please stop that. For the most part, the reaction was positive… we won after all!!
So that’s the tale of a wedding planner turned campaign assistant. I have learned so much about the importance of a strong government, being involved in your community, and voting. If you didn’t vote you don’t have the right to complain. And if you did vote and are still complaining, did you volunteer? Did you call, door knock, scrutineer, lit drop, or any other not so fun but important role with the campaign? If not, then I’m sorry but you shouldn’t be complaining. Campaigns need more than just your vote to win. It took almost a hundred people to make our campaign successful and we couldn’t have done it without them!
Yay for 4 more years!!!