Insider’s guide to door-knocking
As MPs headed out to knock on doors for the election, some revealed their techniques to Capital Diary. Liberal Mark Eyking, campaigning in Cape Breton, says that before he knocks, “I check out the people’s flower and vegetable gardens and their lawns and see how things are growing. I give them advice because I’m a gardener and a farmer. I look to see if they need some more lime put on their lawn or I recommend some new perennials that are out there and vegetables. I’ll tell them about the new variety of beets that are easier to slice, easier to grow.” While working the riding of Mississauga-Brampton South, Liberal MP Navdeep Bains notes, “I try and be very respectful of people so the technique is not to be intrusive at all. When I knock on a door I then make sure I am five feet away from it. As they open the door, I get slightly closer and closer to develop that comfort level.” Bloc MP Carole Lavallée says her secret to door-knocking is to wear Skechers shoes. “I have three pairs—black, green and beige,” and no, none in blue, the colour of the Bloc, though “I have special blue clothes.”
Isn’t it a bit late for Christmas cake?
During the grand opening of Ottawa NDP MP Paul Dewar‘s campaign headquarters last week, one campaign worker got up to announce the top priority for the office. It turned out not to be more volunteers or sign makers but a microwave. The office was decorated with the standard Jack Layton and Dewar posters and signs as well as an old Ed Broadbent campaign sign (he held the riding before Dewar) and a poster of NDP icon Tommy Douglas. Those weren’t the only relics. Among the trays of treats in the back was someone’s contribution of Christmas fruitcake.
How soon will they be back on the Hill?
There is hope that Parliament will resume by the end of May. The writs take two to three weeks to be returned and MPs need to be sworn in. But the date can change with additional proclamations by whoever ends up becoming prime minister. Even if the House does resume in May, members will sit only until June 23 unless the House leaders from each party agree to extend the sitting. In 1988, Parliament resumed three weeks after Brian Mulroney‘s second win, while in 1979, after Joe Clark defeated Pierre Trudeau, it took five months. Peter Milliken, who is not running again, remains Speaker until Parliament sits again. The first order of business on the first day back will be to elect a new Speaker. Conservative insiders say there are four party members seriously vying for the position: Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer, who is already deputy Speaker, Ontario MP Barry Devolin, the assistant deputy Speaker, Manitoba’s Merv Tweed and Ontario’s Ed Holder. If the Conservatives get another minority, many Tories feel it would be time for a Conservative Speaker. In the event of a slim Tory majority, look for the Conservatives to do everything possible to have a Speaker from another party since Speakers do not vote except in the event of a tie. One potential candidate is the NDP’s Joe Comartin, a well-respected MP who has shown interest in the job. One of the first orders of business for the new Speaker may be dealing with the National Capital Commission, the body that oversees the official residences. Restoration and repair work needs to be done on the Speaker’s official residence, the Farm at Kingsmere (particularly the windows), and it seems for now that Milliken prefers to let the new Speaker decide how to proceed.
The coffee shop barometer
At the Bridgehead coffee shop across from the PMO it was all smiles from Conservatives staffers right up until the election was called. Now it seems the coffee-drinking barometer has shifted. One barista noted that the smiles have faded from Conservative staffers’ faces. “Now it’s just, ‘Give me my latte!’ “