POLITICS

New Candidates Give Up Cash, Family Time To Seek Seat In Parliament

08/31/2015 09:53 EDT | Updated 08/31/2016 05:59 EDT

The decision to run as a new candidate in a federal election brings many challenges — and for some in this record-long campaign, one could be trying to make ends meet.

Incumbent candidates have the financial advantage during campaigns because they continue to collect their parliamentary paycheques. But for other candidates, seeking office means having to juggle a job along with the campaign — or going without pay until election day.

Along with those financial and time pressures, add the challenge of keeping up the energy and morale of volunteers for an extended period.

With a fixed election date, many local candidates have been unofficially in the race for months.

That's the case for Paul Manly, a documentary filmmaker who has had to forego contracts and cash to devote time to run as the Green Party candidate for Nanaimo–Ladysmith, B.C.

"It makes things more difficult, for sure," he said. "I've had to pass along work, and I've lost work because I'm a partisan politician now and some organizations don't want to be tied to that."

While the longer writ period gives a boost to the bigger parties, which have more money to spend on advertising, it also gives rookie candidates more time to get their names known to constituents.

Ninder Thind, the Conservative candidate in Brampton West in Ontario, took a leave of absence from her position as teacher and principal at a private school to take on a gruelling 12-hour-a-day campaign schedule. Her employer was flexible, and her family supportive — including her eight-year-old son.

"I think if you're determined and focused at the task at hand, these are sacrifices you have to make," she said.

Like most candidates, Thind tries to avoid burning out her army of volunteers by rotating them.

Emilie Taman was terminated from her job as a prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada for taking an "unauthorized" leave to seek the nomination as an NDP candidate for Ottawa–Vanier.

She is challenging that decision. But Taman says she feels fortunate to have the support of her spouse and others, because taking an extended leave for a 78-day campaign could pose financial hardship, create debt and be a deal-breaker for some prospective candidates.

"For some it would be an absolute barrier," she said.

Christine Poirier, who is running under the Liberal banner in Laurier–Sainte–Marie, said seeking political office is a commitment that requires dedication, even it it comes with a financial cost.

So far she has knocked on 10,000 doors, while pregnant, and plans to knock on many more with her newborn. (She is due this week.)

Poirier is bracing to fight the remainder of the unexpected 78-day election battle with a baby on board.

"There are always a lot of unknowns," she said.

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