As if a vacuum cleaner salesman 

Candidates peddle governance, door-to-door in Squamish

click to enlarge Blair Wilson
  • Blair Wilson

It seems against all notions of privacy and many of decency, but you can sell just about anything at your customer’s front door. Cookies, vacuums, knife sets, watches. Even salvation. It’s a numbers game, has been since the ’20s, when suit-and-tie cannons were first fired down neighbourhood streets in carpet formation — a tactic that helped companies stay buoyant in times of recession.

For their part, politicians have been rapping their knuckles raw probably since the dawn of power. As in sales, especially in an era of media saturation, door-to-door canvassing gives the comforting impression of life whittled down to the local. Gone are the filters of print, television and radio. And yet, people tend to be more passionate about their worldview than they are a box of grody cookies. Plus, it’s easy to hate a politician, and easy to say so, no doubt a bummer for campaigners everywhere. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to hate journalists, and just as easy to say so. No doubt, most people are happy to subtract media from the equation.

The pitch doesn’t stop at the door, though. It unravels on main streets and in debates. It makes front pages and leads newscasts. It goes on and on, escalating in volume and sometimes in tension until it suddenly stands down, sometimes for four years, sometimes for a few months. It takes a strange person to commit to that.

Blair Wilson: He’s got a manual

There are naturals for this kind of thing, and Blair Wilson is one of them. Elected in 2006, he was West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country’s man in the red suit — until he was felled by scandal and banished to the lonely perch of the independent MP. Having since brushed that nastiness from off his high shoulders, in the process accepting overtures from Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Wilson takes to the campaign trail with grins a-go-go. Quick with both wit and script, handy, even, with the occasional insight, Wilson is an apostle of his own doctrine. A political science undergrad, he wrote himself a 120-page manual on the finer points of campaigning.

A lot of that is establishing commonality. He strides up the front steps of Yolanda Destradi’s Squamish dwelling, readies a pamphlet, and knocks on the door. Dressed in a grey jogging suit, her salt and pepper hair standing tall, Destradi answers the door and says the lighting is a bother on account of an eye issue.

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