Thursday, 6 September 2012

Fort Whyte By-Election: Tracking down the candidates

In journalism class, our first assignment in year two was to cover the Fort Whyte By-Election on September 4 by going to where one of the candidates would be on election night and live tweeting. The only problem for me was that the election was on the very first night that I started another year of teaching at Whyte Ridge Music Centre. Work made it very clear that missing the very first day wasn't going to fly, so I asked CreComm journalism instructor Duncan McMonagle if there was anything I could do as an alternate to being there on Tuesday.

Knowing the CreComm policy that CreComm always comes first, I was very surprised and appreciative when Duncan said I could do an alternate assignment. Thanks again Duncan!

So my assignment was to find out where all the candidates would be on election night and make a fact sheet so my classmates would know where to go. Tracking down the candidates to get this information had its share of challenges.

The number one challenge was having to find out where Darrell Ackman, AKA: Mr. JetzTV, would be. I thought it was very bad luck that the one year I had to do this type of assignment Ackman was a candidate. Well luckily I was able to get his number through Metro Winnipeg but here is where things got completely bizarre.

I would now have to call Ackman to ask him where he would be and to make matters worse I called and his Mom picked up the phone. Sadly, I could hear the level of stress and shame in her voice. She was very pleasant and accommodating to me but I could tell that this is all wearing on her. She told me that Darrell wasn't home but reminded me he would definitely be home by six. I made the mistake of asking if she thought he could email me to which she reminded me that Mr. Ackman definitely wasn't using the internet anymore.

Well Ackman did call me back and I got the information I needed but not before having one of the strangest and most uncomfortable conversations I have ever had. I could go into details but I see no need to. All I can say is that I truly hope this man gets help and I'll leave it at that.

As for the rest of the candidates it did take some persistence to track them down but in the end it was very similar to my experiences trying to find people for stories in the summer for my internship. I find that ninety nine per cent of people I deal with to be accommodating and quick to respond. I'm sure these people are busy leading up to an election so it was a nice surprise to have people respond with info so quickly and make my life a little easier.

Mr. Pallister won on Tuesday night and it was really no surprise as the Fort Whyte constituency has only ever had Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba representation since its inception in 1999. According to Elections Manitoba only about 42 per cent of eligible voters cast votes in this by-election. This was an election that many may soon forget but a few of the experiences I had for my assignment means that I will likely not forget it for a long time.