Disrespectful, or necessary? The politics of campaigning on Remembrance Day

The Charlottetown-Parkdale byelection has four candidates running for the finish line in just two weeks — but should the candidates in have campaigned for votes on Remembrance Day?

2 of 4 candidates in P.E.I. byelection campaigned on Saturday, which had people talking

The candidates for District 11, left to right, Bob Doiron, Melissa Hilton, Mike Redmond and Hannah Bell. Redmond and Bell both campaigned on Remembrance Day. (Liberal Party of P.E.I./P.E.I. PC Party/NDP P.E.I./Green Party of P.E.I.)

The Charlottetown-Parkdale byelection has four candidates running for the finish line in just two weeks — but should they have campaigned for votes on Remembrance Day? 

All four candidates running in Charlottetown-Parkdale attended Remembrance Day ceremonies on Saturday, but then two of them went knocking on doors — a move that had some Islanders upset.

"I think that shows a little bit of disrespect. I think it could wait for another day, to tell you the truth," said one Islander when asked by CBC whether candidates should have been canvassing. 

"Absolutely not," said another. 

Green Party candidate Hannah Bell and 30 volunteers went door to door, starting mid-afternoon. 

"The reason veterans fought for us was to secure our democracy," said Bell. "Being able to participate in the democratic process, including the door-to-door canvassing and speaking about the issues is part of how democracy works."

The NDP's Mike Redmond also campaigned Saturday afternoon with 30 volunteers. He knocked on about 100 doors, and had some residents tell him he shouldn't be doing so. 

"Issues around PTSD have come up at the door, around mental health and supporting our veterans when they come home from conflict. So it was a good day to take those issues to the door and listen," said Redmond. 

'A sacred day'

The Liberal and Progressive Conservative candidates said they chose not to go door to door Saturday — but they didn't stay home, either.

PC candidate Melissa Hilton went to the Charlottetown Farmers' Market, and to the Red Shores racetrack.

"It's not uncommon for me to go to the farmers market and it's not uncommon for me to go to Red Shores. I don't look at that as campaigning," she said. 

"Personally I don't feel comfortable campaigning on Remembrance Day. It's a time to remember and thank our veterans," she added. 

Liberal candidate Bob Doiron went to a gathering at Veterans Affairs after the ceremony and to a restaurant.

"I certainly didn't do any type of campaigning," said Doiron. "I think Remembrance Day is a sacred day and it should be set aside to remember the veterans."

With files from Brian Higgins