I was on the plane returning from covering the Alison Redford campaign in Fort McMurray the other night when a question was raised by a reporter. He asked one of the three Redford PR people on the plane, if there was going to be a media "avail" the next day.
The PR guy looked quizzically and said: "Hmmm, avail or announcement, avail or announcement ?" There was no urgency in his reply, just a friendly suggestion that it was going to be a routine stop on the campaign trail.
As we now know, it turned out to be THE defining move of the campaign thus far (yes I know it's only week #1).
The next day I wasn't scheduled to be into work until 1 p.m. so I snuck away to the gym.
Before I hit the weights, I checked a voicemail that had just come in. It was from the Redford campaign urging me to attend her "announcement."
"You won't want to miss it," the woman added. We had it covered, so I proceeded with my workout.
Yes this IS a campaign like none other in recent history. But it too, is very predictable.
There is a run of daily photo-ops with the Leader-centric campaigns. The media is ushered around like a daycare center field trip. We are tantalized by winks, nods and suggestive glances that we may, in fact, be thrown a bone if we're good.
I've covered more campaigns than I can count, and I knew something on the campaign stop in Fort McMurray felt odd. It was my first day covering Alison Redford, so I didn't pay too much attention to what I felt, and just stuck to what I saw.
What I felt was tension, not the confidence of a team on a sure path ahead. The short bus rides to the reclamation site at Suncor were almost uncomfortably silent. At the early stage of this campaign they are usually loud, and fun, and funny.
Maybe from now on, I'll just close my eyes, and write. À la prochaine.