My experience running for office
On August 14th, 2011 I was surfing the internet when I came upon an advertisement on Facebook. This ad stated that The Freedom Party was looking for candidates. Although I never heard of the Freedom Party I was very interested so I checked out their website.
Immediately I had found a party with the same ideology as me. Their slogan - Life, Liberty, Property is directly quoted from John Locke and they state that Objectivism (Ayn Rand's Philosophy) is what they base their platform on. After seeing that they vowed that personal responsibility and personal liberty was their main focus, I decided to e-mail their party leader Paul McKeever to ask to be a candidate.
The next day I received a phone call from Paul himself who asked some questions about my reason for wanting to run and my political affiliation. After I told him that I was an Objectivist and that I was a conservative but was unhappy with the current conservative party he welcomed me to the Freedom Party as a candidate in the riding of Barrie.
The first thing that I needed to do was collect signatures from at least 25 voters in my riding. These signatures were just to say that I should get to run for office. They were not a promise to vote for me but just a way to tell Elections Canada that I should be allowed to run for MPP.
After the signatures were collected I headed over the the campaign office and turned in my signatures. I had become an official candidate on the ballot.
Getting Ready and Studying Up
I have always been comfortable in front of large crowds. I love to debate and as long as I agree with the position I take I will always come up with arguments for my side. But before I could properly debate any of my fellow candidates I had to study.
While working two jobs, going to school full time, and moving into a new apartment - I started to run for MPP. I began to study every plank the Freedom Party was running on. I not only knew what we would do if we got elected but I knew every critique against them. I was ready to go head to head in a debate.
Between September 13th and September 29th I participated in 2 television interviews, 1 radio interview, 2 speechs about the importance of voting, and 6 debates (3 of which were televised). If that sounds like a lot of pressure in a 2 week period it was! I was also featured in the Barrie Examiner and the Barrie Advance. Not only did I have all of these these debates and speeches to make but I also had to work and go to school. There were a few days that I would run into class, out of breath and in a full suit. It was quite a sight but I loved that I woke up every day and had a new list of stuff to do.
My first debate was for CARP and it was fantastic. I told the onlookers what our party was about and some of the issues we would deal with. My position on Health Care was so popular that after the candidates tried to argue with it a man got up and stated "The young man for Freedom Party knows exactly what he is talking about! A two-tier system is the only way to handle Health Care." After the debate I was walking to the hallway and saw a Green Party representative being pushed away by a CARP member who was saying, "That's all well and good but your party is not realistic" then, pointing at me, "That's the man I'll be voting for!"
Not only did I have debates in front of senior's groups but I also had three debates at various high schools. These went well and gave me a chance to hone my debate skills. I had many interested students come up and request information. I also had a few that wanted pictures with me, which I later learned was because I was being voted on as Ontario's Sexiest Candidate.
The Big Debate
Finally the big debate was here, the city hall debate. Fully televised by Rogers and our local new channel I was seated at the actual city hall desk with the other candidates. After a quick one minute opening we were asked a series of 10 questions and each given time to answer them. After we each answered the questions there was an open 5 minute free-for-all where we were to interrupt each other to get our points across. This went well enough and I even got a few shots in. At one point the liberal and conservative were arguing about numbers when I caught them off guard, rang in and said, "That's all well and good guys and I love numbers too but the fact is your arguing about a very small difference. If anyone was to look at what you each are promising they would see very little difference. The Freedom Party, on the other hand, is looking to fix what has been broken and bring about some real and positive change for Barrie."
The only part of the City Hall debate that I didn't enjoy was being critisised by the liberal candidate. After I explained that some of our planks were to abolish the Beer and Wine tax and allow other stores to sell alcohol, the liberal started his speech by saying "Wow, he sure likes his beer..." Thankfully I was able to get back at him in my closing speech when I said, "It's not that I like beer, it's that I love freedom! The current system keeps a monopoly on beer and wine and charges us an unfair tax just to have it."
After all my door to door work and debating the voting day finally came. I went to my favourite pub with my parents and a few friends where we watched the votes tally up. I was absolutely shocked when I started to see my numbers climb. I knew that I had reached a few people but I couldn't believe that I ended up with 179 votes! It was truly a memorable moment and I was ecstatic to see my work paid off. See the results here
All in all I had a fantastic experience running for office and being the first person to run for the Freedom Party in Barrie. In total we had 56 candidates across Ontario. I was proud to be out fighting for what I believed in. I would definitely run again and urge anyone who is thinking about running for office to do so. I have even decided that I want to work in politics for my career, and it is all thanks to this experience.