For some, you might say it fell without a sound.
But on Sunday, Aug. 2, the writ was dropped, and Canada officially began its 42nd General Election.
You might not know it if you frequent the echo chambers of partisan social media or the comment sections of the mandatory news coverage, but a large number of Canada's eligible voting public have stayed well away from the campaign for much of the past 11 weeks.
Around Whistler, It wasn't until shortly after Labour Day that the signs started to appear.
A Liberal red for Pam Goldsmith-Jones at Village Gate Blvd; a re-elect John Weston Conservative blue at the entrance to Nordic.
Larry Koopman and the orange of the NDP popped up along Highway 99, while the namesake green of Ken Melamed's Green Party could be seen in local yards and on street corners for weeks.
Before long the ditches were a colourful blur.
By the time voters hit the polls, the campaign will be 11 weeks old — the longest in modern Canadian history —and Pique has been there every step of the way.
With Election Day just around the corner, we're bringing you everything you need to know to make an informed choice — and whatever else you may have heard, it is absolutely imperative that you take the time to make a choice.
Since the early 1960's — when nearly 80 per cent of Canadians voted in three consecutive elections — voter turnout in Canada has taken a steady dive.
In 2011, just 61 per cent of eligible voters made it to the polls.
So take a friend. Take two friends. Do your civic duty and participate.
Your grandchildren might thank you someday.
If, to this point, you've somehow managed to avoid this election campaign, congratulations — you're tuning in at the best possible time.
John Weston rings the doorbell and waits. We all wait — Weston, his two volunteers, Josiah and Tom, and myself — listening for any sound of a potential voter on the other side of the door. We hear nothing.
"Fringe benefits: we get to see great architecture, awesome landscaping," Weston says, ever the optimist, as we walk from the empty house back out to Bishop Way in Whistler Cay Heights.
Seven years after first being elected as the Conservative MP for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding, Weston is approaching this election just as he has the others — by pounding the pavement.
"Thousands," he says, when asked how many doors he'll knock in a typical campaign.
"I try to give them every opportunity to grill me at the door, to be engaged, and I think that's part of the exercise... if the other candidates do it too, then, you know, maybe the whole tide rises a bit."
On this particular outing in Whistler, we don't find many people to talk to — just two Weston supporters and one undecided voter behind dozens of doors knocked. But it's far from indicative of the level of engagement Weston has witnessed to this point, he says.
"People are way more engaged than in past elections," he says. "People are concerned about our country, and genuine about their desire for things to be as good as they are or better."
We don't meet any Stephen Harper haters on this outing, though there is certainly no shortage of them around. Weston's reception two weeks later at the local all-candidates meeting — grumbles, heckles and boos — would be proof enough of that.
But Weston says he sees engaging with his critics as a learning opportunity.
"We can always be better. We should always be listening," he says.
"You ask them why. Is it the national level with the leadership, or is it your local representative? What can I do to be better?"
Usually, Weston says, the dissatisfaction lies with the national level.
The rigidity with which Stephen Harper and the Prime Minister's Office control the country has been well documented — and for the most part Weston has spent his time in office voting along party lines — but he's proud of the work he and his constituents have done around tourism, fisheries and other things.
His "elevator speech" for unfamiliar voters touches on his two private members bills — one focusing on combating crystal meth and the other on National Health and Fitness Day — as well as the work he did with local constituents to get action items into budget 2015.
While some Conservative candidates have gone MIA in the lead up to the election, Weston has not shied away from interviews or debates.
"I created the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which stands up for individual Canadians' rights when governments menace those rights, so I too care very much about these things," Weston said at Whistler's all-candidates meeting, in response to a question about Canada's ailing democracy.
"Any Conservative MP with backbone is free to do the kinds of things that we've seen accomplished on behalf of this riding."
For more on Weston's platform head to www.re-electjohnweston.ca.
Labour: Weston pledges to continue to advocate for an exemption for Whistler business around the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. "We'll get the right answer," he says.
Woodfibre LNG: Not endorsing one way or the other. Believes in independent project review, and that tax revenues of the project cannot be ignored.
Tourism: Worked with tourism stakeholders to get tourism action items in budget 2015, including $30 million for marketing in the U.S.
First Nations: History of defending Aboriginal people in court. Feels Canadians must strive for equality — does not believe one group should have "veto power" over any other group of Canadians.
Pamela Goldsmith-Jones sits onstage at the Millennium Place theatre between Whistler Blackcomb's Arthur De Jong and journalist Richard Littlemore.
It's June 17, and a good-sized crowd has come out to hear a discussion on climate change as part of Goldsmith-Jones' Democracy Talks series.
Goldsmith-Jones — former two-term mayor of West Vancouver and Liberal Party candidate for the Sea to Sky riding — plays moderator as her two guests discuss the past, present and future of climate change.
In some ways, the evening's format is reflective of the style of governance Goldsmith-Jones says she'll bring to the riding — inclusive, collaborative and thoughtful.
"We need more innovation and collaboration," she told the crowd at Whistler's all-candidates meeting Sept. 28.
"I have always spoken up for our natural heritage and for the influence and vision of the West Coast of Canada. I'm seeking your support to bring open, honest and accountable government to Ottawa. This includes electoral reform, senate reform, respect for our scientists, and standing up for the ability of MPs to speak up for their ridings."
Goldsmith-Jones has effectively been campaigning for a year. Since winning the Liberal nomination in June 2014, she's hosted more than a dozen Democracy Talks throughout the riding, focusing on topics ranging from culture to the economy.
The deliberate, comprehensive, organized nature of the series fits well with Goldsmith-Jones' personality.
With a master's degree in municipal politics and four terms in local government, Goldsmith-Jones is well versed in poli-speak, and if polling numbers are any indication, people are connecting with her message. As of this writing, the Liberal candidate holds a nine-point lead in the polls over second place Weston.
And like Weston, Goldsmith-Jones has been pounding the pavement, knocking on thousands of doors and making thousands of phone calls.
"Restoring parliamentary democracy comes up the most," she said, of what she's hearing from constituents.
"Beyond that, people are concerned about pipelines, Bill C-51, Bill C-24 and most of all, could we please restore the long form census?"
This past summer, Goldsmith-Jones completed her MBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership at Simon Fraser University. She says improving relationships with First Nations communities has been a priority of hers since she first ran for mayor of West Vancouver.
When it comes to Whistler's labour issues, she's kept her ear to the ground. On Sept. 28, her campaign announced its commitment to finding solutions to ongoing local labour struggles.
Goldsmith-Jones would form a "Local Labour Task Force" within 60 days of being elected, she announced, with the goal of ensuring the unique circumstances of the riding are accommodated for in any national labour policy.
She's also promised to fight for an exemption to reworked rules around Temporary Foreign Workers.
"Whistler must have that exemption," Goldsmith-Jones told the crowd at Whistler's all-candidates meeting. "We know that these are unique circumstances and that businesses are closing as a result."
For more, head to www.pamgoldsmithjones.liberal.ca.
Labour: Has pledged to fight for an exemption concerning Temporary Foreign Workers. Also committed to forming a "Local Labour Task Force" within 60 days of being elected.
Woodfibre LNG: Not endorsing one way or another, but feels that the environmental review process has become "highly problematic" and its integrity can't be relied on. A Liberal government would review environmental regulations before entertaining new proposals, she says.
Tourism: Maintaining proper environmental standards is key for tourism. Liberals would invest in "sector-specific" strategies to support innovation in things like energy and fishing, which in turn affect tourism
First Nations: History of working with First Nations in the riding. Recently completed an MBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership at Simon Fraser University. Has strong relationships with many Aboriginals in the riding, something you can't "fast track."
It's August 18, and Whistler's business community has gathered to talk labour.
Business is booming and room nights are rocketing, but the pool of available employees is shallow. Small businesses are suffering.
When the time has come to share ideas towards the end of the meeting, somewhere near the back of the room a tall man in a suit stands up to introduce himself.
His name is Larry Koopman, our local NDP candidate for the upcoming election.
For some reason, Koopman wasn't introduced among the other politicians in attendance — Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and provincial MLA Jordan Sturdy — at the outset of the meeting.
Maybe he walked in late.
Whatever the reason for the oversight, it draws an interesting parallel to Koopman's campaign.
In a riding of political veterans, Koopman is the underdog — a fact he's well aware of.
"I am the rookie candidate. You probably guessed that by now," he told the crowd at Whistler's all-candidates meeting (the question, incidentally, was "who are you, Larry Koopman?").
Koopman was born in Saskatchewan, where he says he grew up being inspired by the speeches of NDP icon Tommy Douglas — the father of Canadian medicare.
Those social democratic ideals are what drove him to politics, he says.
He's been the president of the NDP's local riding association for the past five years, and owns a small cottage rental business in Gibsons.
He also works as the Sunshine Coast Community Coordinator for the Opportunities Fund, which helps find jobs for people with disabilities.
He may not boast the political pedigree of his opponents, but Koopman's unexpected appearance at the labour meeting is a good indicator of the kind of leadership he's offering.
He doesn't pretend to have a democracy cure-all, but he's more than willing to roll up his sleeves, to work and to listen.
"No politician, no party has all the answers," Koopman said, of Whistler's labour struggles. "What we need to do is we need to sit down, we need to listen, and we need to work and facilitate finding solutions, and I think I can do that."
Koopman says he is deeply concerned about environmental protection, and, being a farm boy at heart, food security.
"I think it's important that we recognize food security for Whistler, for the Sunshine Coast and for Squamish, because that is an important aspect that we don't talk about much," he said.
"With global warming and climate change it is something that I feel deeply concerned about and it's something that we need to take action on."
For more, head to www.larrykoopman.ndp.ca.
Labour: As a small business owner in tourism, says his "heart goes out to the business community" of Whistler. No "silver-bullet" solution to labour struggles, but wants to work with business community and First Nations to build bridges and create long-term employment opportunities.
Woodfibre LNG: Does not support. Believes the review process isn't credible, and says NDP would overhaul entire process.
Tourism: Supports removing Visa barriers and increasing funding. The NDP has promised $30 million for U.S. tourism marketing. As a small business owner in the tourism industry, says he would "far sooner" support tourism over resource extraction.
First Nations: Visited with local chiefs to hear their concerns. Wants to facilitate partnership between First Nations and Whistler businesses that would be mutually beneficial. The NDP have promised an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women within 100 days of being elected.
It's September 29, a beautiful, early fall evening in Whistler, and Green Party candidate Ken Melamed is holding a "Vote Jam" at the Whistler Brewing Company for young voters 35 and under.
About 50 people are on hand for the casual meet-and-greet, sipping beers and listening to live music while Melamed chats with the crowd.
It's one of the Greens' stated goals for the election — increase voter turnout by engaging young people and other non-voters.
"The youth vote is at the core of what we call the 'abandoned vote,'" Melamed says.
The Green Party's commitment to the environment should appeal to young people, Melamed says — the party has committed $1 billion to stimulate the green economy.
"Clean tech, renewables, energy efficiency, we know a lot of kids understand the importance of addressing climate change and they want to be in those industries," Melamed says. "They're meaningful. The last thing a lot of young people want is to grow old and work in some dirty industry where they're not working for the planet, they're working against it."
But in its quest to achieve official party status — 12 seats in the House of Commons — the Green Party has developed a diverse, fully costed platform full of unique initiatives and new ideas.
"One of the downsides of the Green Party tag, people tend to want to pigeonhole the party and give it a one-word brand, if you will, or association, and that's typically to the environment," Melamed said.
"We are very fiscally responsible, but also we care deeply about social justice issues and the environment, so it's really right across the spectrum of issues."
If you've lived in Whistler for awhile, you likely already have an opinion of Melamed.
With 15 years of municipal government experience in Whistler — including serving as mayor during the wildly successful 2010 Winter Games — the local Green candidate is no unknown commodity.
It was his experience overseeing the games that led Green Party leader Elizabeth May to appoint Melamed finance critic.
"We believe in sensible budgeting and answering questions for Canadians, and Ken is helping me do that in developing the platform and the budget for the next election," May told Pique in August.
"Having balanced the budgets in Whistler and handled a multimillion dollar event like the Olympics, I wanted someone with practical experience."
Getting young voters to the polls is key to the Green Party's success, but why is that such a hard thing in the first place? Months on the campaign trail have given Melamed some insight, he says.
"It's because they're afraid of failure. They're young, and they're going into the world and they want to do things that they're confident about," he says.
"Voting is quite mysterious. Politics is complex, and there's so much bull%$#@ that it's hard for them to know who to trust."
Green candidates offer a fresh, genuine perspective, Melamed says — all you have to do is send them to Ottawa.
"Not voting is a guarantee that the system is never going to change," he says.
"And given that the youth are going to inherit a world that is increasingly at risk, there's never been a more urgent time for them to get participating in this."
For more, head to www.kenmelamed.ca.
Labour: The Green Party does not support the TFW program, preferring to expand Canada's immigration program.
Woodfibre LNG: Does not support. Proposing a four-point plan to stop the project: Repeal LNG subsidy, adopt international shipping standards, expand the marine protected area and introduce national carbon pricing and dividend.
Tourism: Former Tourism Whistler board member. Helped facilitate the growth of the industry during time on Whistler council. Wants to help tourism in the corridor realize its true potential.
First Nations: Worked with neighbouring First Nations during his time as mayor. The Green Party's 'Council of Canadian Governments' would bring Canada's Aboriginals to the table on all national issues. Wants to negotiate land claims in good faith, implement the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, protect language and culture, end poverty and conduct an inquiry into Missing and Murdered women.
for full platforms, see respective websites
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