Jeff DaviesMay 3 - Vancouver. The leaders have gathered for the televised debate. Even before it begins, my BlackBerry is vibrating furiously in my vest pocket. The New Democrat campaign team is responding to Campbell's comments as fast as they're out of his mouth: 5:01 p.m. "Will Campbell finally admit his policies are hurting working families in touch times?" 5:12 p.m.: "The truth on deficits." 5:18 p.m. " The truth about Campbell's neglect of rural B.C." And so on. Eight news releases in an hour from the NDP. Then at 6:35 p.m. another, this one proclaiming, "defensive Campbell ducks answers..." Finally at 7:51, less than two hours after the debate has concluded, the NDP is claiming a "knockout victory" for Carole James.
Belle PuriMonday, Tuesday, Wednesday we clocked a lot of kilometers with the Liberal campaign - 10 communities in three days.
There were endless stretches of awesome views. Gordon Campbell was the most enthusiastic - constantly taking pictures. He has a digital camera with him and clearly he loves to play with it. For a chunk of every drive he bounces from side to side of the bus snapping away. It may be a new toy because he often grabs moments here and there to pick up tips from Province photographer Jayson Payne about best use and all the bells and whistles. Media types are always on the lookout shouting "Premier - over here - great viz". That MAY be though to keep him from taking pictures of us!
CBC News Vancouver
Jeff DaviesApril 30, afternoon, Revelstoke - The Liberal leader shakes a few hands on the main drag. Most people are friendly and seem pleased to see him,. But one man, who identifies himself as Andy Parkin, waves a big sign that asks, "Are you sober Campbell?" He tags along with his sign as Campbell makes his way down the street. The Liberal leader finally looks over and says, "Yes I am, but thanks very much for asking." Parkin tells me, Campbell "should be providing blood tests to show that he's sober." Later, a Google search confirms Parkin is active in the local NDP club.
CBC News Vancouver
Jeff DaviesApril 30, Kicking Horse Canyon - Campbell has brought a busload of reporters to view what is clearly one of his proudest accomplishments: the Park Bridge, part of a $972-million upgrade to the Trans Canada Highway. The graceful span is truly a visual and architectural marvel as well as an important political statement.The early morning sun is creeping over the snow-capped mountains as we gather in the valley below. Campbell joins the builders in listing the facts and figures. The bridge was completed more than a year-and-a-half ahead of time - as a public private partnership or "P3". It's 405 meters long and as much as 90 meters high.
Heather RobinsonI walked into the crowded meeting room at Victoria’s Our Place homeless shelter and grabbed one of the few remaining seats. On one side of me: a well-dressed cologne-smelling political-type wearing campaign buttons. On the other side: a weather-beaten man with matted hair and a dirty blanket wrapped around his shoulders.
Before getting started, an organizer announced that there would be coffee on all night and if anyone needed parking space for their shopping carts to go see one of the volunteers. It was one of the most unique all-candidates debates I’d attended.
Belle PuriDrove from Nelson to Cranbrook. Oh! My! Everytime it blows me away - British Columbia is beautiful! I know this just in! But really - the Kootenay Pass - roads were clear but the snow was blowing and the mountains glimmering. Lost count of how many deer we saw - dozens literally. Passed through Moyie - blink and you'll miss it - but caught glimpse of a lovely church and what looked like a very old cemetery. Moyie dates back to 1893 I think.
Jeff DaviesApril 28, Kimberley - Gordon Campbell strolls the Bavarian platzl - or square - in this East Kootenay town and strikes up a conversation with a man who introduces himself as a yodeler. It's the sort of sound bite radio reporters dream about. Adi Unterberger raises his voice and warbles to the mountains. Then he invites the Liberal leader to join him. The two yodel a little duet as reporters and camera crews crowd around. Is this too good to be true? One reporter grumbles privately the yodeler must be a plant. Really? After Campbell moves on, Unterberger makes some comments to CBC News that sound decidely more pragmatic than anything one would expect from a Liberal plant.
Friday was a bad day for Gordon Campbell with four of his candidates got in various scandals and that has been good news for Carole James. As the weekend ends it gets better for James as the campaign hits Fernie where they’re hoping to take out Bill Bennett. In violation of the elections act - there’s an advertisement for free beer for anyone who shows up to meet Bennett on May 5th. We interview him about this and his fears of vote splitting. We watch him exchange hunting stories at the BC wildlife federation convention. While my videographer, Brett Hyde films this, one of the members pulls me aside and whispers “We’re voting for Bill cause he’s a redneck like us.” Will you say that on tape I ask. Nope. Pressed for time - we ditch Carole’s campaign door knocking and head straight to the bull frog pub to see for ourselves the two posters promoting the free booze shindig.
Natalie Clancy As promised from an earlier blog… more on Carole James health secrets.
I’m having lunch at the sumptuous Red Tree Restaurant with James and her entourage. Her bison burger arrives and she immediately scoops the crispy yam fries on a plate for her daughter Allison, communication officer - Neera Ritcey and me. Now these are the best yam fries you will ever eat! Yet James is not tempted to take even a nibble.” Discipline” she later tells me is the key as I plop down next to her on the bus to dig deep on how she has leaned up. She tells me a girlfriend bought her 5 sessions with a trainer as birthday present, right after the last election and it changed her life. First, the trainer gave her a heart monitor. When you are pressed for time it helps you stay in your target heart rate. To minimize boredom she uses an illiptical trainer, a treadmill, and interval training. She works out 30 minutes, three to five times a week - no matter what.
Natalie ClancyCarole James was with her "peeps" at the Fairmont Waterfront hotel Friday. A Health Science Association conference and a ballroom full of unionized health workers who vote NDP. I sat down expecting to hear her rip into Campbell about tearing up contracts. But before she did that she surprised me. She stepped out of her comfort zone to speak about her own brush with cancer two years ago. James was diagnosed with uterine endometrial cancer in July of 2006. She stepped outside the shell of a political leader and gave us a glimpse of the private Carole, telling a room full of lab technicians, physiotherapists and other health workers that “I’ve been there, getting blood tests, in the MRI, at the cancer clinic…. and you were with me the whole way and I will never forget that. And there are thousands like me in every corner of the province so I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”