(Photos: Kelly Roche/QEW South Post)
BY KELLY ROCHE
Political hopefuls are rallying support in the final stretch of Canada’s 42nd federal election.
“A lot of people are disillusioned with politics and politicians,” said Green Party candidate Ariana Burgener while greeting commuters at the Clarkson GO station during the 6:45 a.m. rush Thursday.
“I don’t really fit the bill myself for the average politician.”
The 24-year-old is a latecomer to the race in Mississauga-Lakeshore; door-knocking on weekends and hitting up transit regulars Monday to Friday.
Many people blow past her, rushing to the train platform. Burgener takes it in stride, saying she knows they don’t have time to talk. Others stop and take a flyer. She thanks them all.
Throughout the campaign, flat, comfortable shoes have been a must.
“I’ve been trying to look professional but not ‘suited up’ to go door to door. It’s sort of that hard mix to find,” she said.
Burgener grew up in Clarkson, where she still lives, and has a master’s degree in environmental sustainability.
Her youthful appearance sometimes jars voters, much like her entry into the race.
During advance voting over the Thanksgiving long weekend, Burgener said she heard from someone who was stunned to see her name on the ballot.
“A friend called and said, ‘aren’t you supposed to be in B.C. here?,” said Burgener, adding she was going to join her sister out west, then decided to run after realizing no one was representing the Greens.
“I thought, well, rather than waiting about and hoping there’s someone to vote for, I’ll step up,” said Burgener.
New Democratic Party candidate Eric Guerbilsky knows something about steps.
Since March, “I’ve knocked on over 20,000 doors,” said Guerbilsky, a Port Credit resident for about a decade.
Although it probably wouldn’t hold up in court, worn out soles on his dress shoes support Guerbilsky’s statement.
“It’s been such an exhaustive and amazing experience,” he said while walking to a townhouse complex near the Port Credit GO station.
Guerbilsky stopped at a bus shelter, asking riders if they’re voting.
Two people said they weren’t legally eligible, while another pair said they had already voted NDP. A young man said he was supporting a different candidate.
Guerbilsky thanked them, heading north to knock on doors.
“I want to talk to everyone that’s home, so I give it the reasonable amount of time. It’s typically five seconds at a door,” he said.
Once it opens, “the trick is, keep the conversation short and move on,” Guerbilsky said of how he was trained.
“I, personally — no … I want to understand where a person’s coming from.”
Having said that, “I can’t spend half an hour at every door,” he said.
With a few days left, it’s not too late to woo voters.
“Some people won’t vote, and some people will decide when they get to the ballot box,” said University of Toronto political science professor Nelson Wiseman.
“What we’re finding is there is more volatility in the electorate but by this point … usually it’s more or less decided for most people, unless something dramatic comes up.”
At the same time, “there will be a number of people that haven’t decided.”
Voter turnout was 61 per cent in 2011.
Election day is Oct. 19.
Liberal candidate Sven Spengemann’s campaign manager Rob Foote rebuffed an invitation to participate, saying “Sven is very busy.” A further e-mail inquiry yielded a response from communications advisor Daniel Pascucci reading, “thanks for the opportunity, however due to timing we have to gratefully decline.”
Conservative candidate Stella Ambler’s campaign manager said she would be canvassing Friday and attending events over the weekend. Tentative plans were made to meet Friday and were not confirmed by deadline.