It happens in every federal election. As one of the mainstream parties, you’ve got 308 ridings to fill, some of which are in places you haven’t won since the days of Diefenbaker, and there is no experienced candidate stepping up to the plate. But you need someone to represent you, if only so your opponents can’t accuse you of not being able to recruit candidates coast to coast.
Enter the gullible student.
They are more sacrificial lambs then the wave of the future, young loyalists willing to volunteer five weeks for a bit of fame, a lot of experience, advancement within the party—and absolutely no chance of winning.
There are a few of them running for the major parties this year. In Cariboo-Prince George, 22-year-old Jon Van Barneveld is running for the NDP after years of volunteering as a youth for the party. In Edmonton-Strathcona, 20-year-old Matthew Sinclair is running for the Liberals after years of much the same thing.
Though at least they live in their ridings. Perhaps the most tokenistic of token candidates in this election, at least for the main national parties, is Kyle Warwick, the Liberal candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley. It comprises the entire northwestern quarter of British Columbia and is the seventh largest riding in Canada.
Warwick is a UBC Political Science student who, as geography might hint at, does not live in Skeena-Bulkey Valley, and never has. According to an article by The Northern View, “Warwick says he will be touring the riding and talking to voters in the different communities sometime after April 20th.” I’m going to go out on a limb, guess his final exam is on the 20th, and wish him well on his 12-day tour of a riding of 323,720 square kilometres.
In the 2008 election, the Liberals only managed 1,916 votes here (their third lowest total in Canada), good for 5.5 per cent, so when previously nominated candidate and local mayor Sharon Hartwell dropped out last week, it stands to reason that the riding association turned their attention to simply finding a warm body.
Yet if you can’t find anyone with real qualifications or connection to your riding though, what’s the point of fielding a candidate at all? It’s one thing to find a student with no hope of winning. But a student who isn’t from your own riding? Whose only electoral achievements have been at the student council level?
Warwick is passionate about politics and cares deeply for the Liberal Party. It’s a wonderful opportunity for him. What it says about the party he represents is a different matter.