if you’ve been cruising the danforth over the past month, you can’t have missed it: the southeast corner of broadview and danforth is ablaze with big red letter G’s, as the GG liberal team’s makeshift home. just a few days after the writ was dropped, the former real estate offices were transformed into what quickly became my favourite place to hang out, a lively hub of campaign activity.
the space is something of a rabbit warren of rooms, each with cables and phone lines snaking in and out of the drywall. there are tiny rooms for phone canvassers, large spaces for volunteer training, and offices for all the worker bees. a makeshift kitchen fuels the troops with a well-used (read: filthy) microwave and a refrigerator with a photo of bob rae taped on the door.
function trumps form in this temporary set up; the wall coverings don’t really qualify as art—mostly Grant Gordon lawn signs, mural paper crookedly mounted with masking tape, and the occasional map of the riding.
it’s the people who add colour and character.
there’s kira who greets visitors and callers in the foyer with her warm smile and confident direction; julie who corrals volunteers and makes them all feel welcome and part of something; mike the blues guitarist with the steady calm and tireless energy; christine the franco-manitoban who’s a whiz on the web. a deluge of davids: david v, the peruvian with endless patience for first-time canvassers, david g who sleeps on a stranger’s couch having come from ottawa to run the campaign website, david b who wears a striped scarf every day and has a camera worth more than my car (he’s the videographer). there’s jonathan the pinch hockey coach, lucas the sign master, jamie the canvassing co-ordinator, kelly the phone-team leader, lianne the extraordinary volunteer who offered to pick lice out of my kids’ heads after reading my recent blog post. (blessedly that hell has passed so she was spared having to follow through on her kindness.)
they’re all young, energetic and smart. the opposite of how i feel most of the time.
no wonder i’ve taken to spending my days at the campaign office, pretending to be necessary: it’s the best way to feel part of the adventure.
sometimes i bring in healthy snacks and vitamin C; i’ve been called the campaign mom. there go my delusions of youth.
my own mother has come by with homemade lunch and fresh-baked cookies (surely that makes her the campaign mom?); grant’s mum came by for a stint working the phones; his dad has been out to canvass door-to-door. they all agree it’s an invigorating place to be.
as the campaign winds down, i’ve been thinking about why i’m so drawn to this scene, to this hodge-podge of office equipment and cast of temporary players.
a typical day for me as the pre-political wife was spent writing in my second-floor office at home, my sole companion curled at my feet. the biggest action was a courier delivery, or—knock my socks off—a service call.
so for me, the campaign headquarters, with all it’s comings and goings, is like live theatre.
but this isn’t just a lively office filled with busy people. this is a temple of exuberance.
the most magnetic thing about the grant gordon campaign office is the energy. to a person, these folks are passionate about what they’re doing. and their faith is infectious; i can’t get enough of it. even my kids love hanging out and watching the team at work. they’re learning what politics looks like from the inside, and i can’t think of a better group of models to teach my kids about civic engagement.
what really chokes me up is that these volunteers all believe so passionately in grant, in what he’s trying to do, in the party and policies he champions.
sometimes i sit at a desk and see dried grains of rice, spilled during someone’s late night workshift and think, “my gosh, these people are all staying up late, eating on the job and busting their chops, all for *my husband*! and they’ve only just met him!”
but then i remember what my friend jane said the night she and so many other wonderful friends from the community came out to help with the nomination meeting. “this is bigger than grant. we believe in what he believes in.”
and that’s the thing that’s so powerful, so addictive. it’s the fuel that gets candidates through round-the-clock meetings and debate prep and door-to-door canvassing in the rain, the crack cocaine that keeps political volunteers coming back for more gruelling work, campaign after campaign: the pursuit of something bigger than you. the belief we can make the world a better place.
grant is on fire with it. he springs through this marathon of a campaign like pegasus, on less sleep than he’s had since our kids were babies.
hugo loves it too. he looks at me with expectation now until i walk him over to the office, where has become something of the team mascot. sporting a G button on his collar, he is lavished with (locally made & all-natural!) treats and belly-rubbed into bliss.
here’s something i never would have thought was true: mounting a political campaign is not unlike mounting a stage play. in all the years i worked in theatre, when everyone worked so closely together leading up to a performance, the group grew quite intimate. we formed something of a temporary family, with common values and shared purpose, working together towards something we believed in: putting together a stellar production for every audience.
and that’s what’s happened at the corner of broadview and danforth: a family has formed. we get a kick out of each other’s company, but the biggest payoff is the invigorating rush of communing with like-minded people in pursuit of an ideal.
this is a march break like no other for my kids, but it’s the wrap-up to an experience none of us will soon forget. being the campaign mom has been a rewarding delight.
but i draw the line at cleaning that microwave…
Gill Deacon lives in Toronto-Danforth with her husband Grant Gordon and their three sons. She is a regular contributor to grantgordon.ca, giving us a peek behind the scenes during the political campaign.
You can follow her on Twitter at @gilldeacon