'Talk to us': With no visits from candidates, one Winnipeg North voter says she's reluctant to cast a ballot

One Winnipeg non-voter says there are two main reasons she doesn't vote: she's never met any of the candidates, and she can't seem to find enough information on who they are or what they stand for.

Paige Buxton says lack of personal relationships, easily accessible information keeps her from voting

Paige Buxton, a mom of five who lives in the Winnipeg North riding, has only voted once in her life. She says it's too difficult and frustrating to find information on what candidates stand for. (Sam Samson/CBC)

There are eight candidates running for the Winnipeg North seat in the upcoming federal election — but Paige Buxton says she hasn't seen any of them, or even their campaign material, at her doorstep.

"I found it kind of difficult in trying to figure out names of parties or names of people that I should potentially vote for," she said.

The 37-year-old stay-at-home mom has lived on Stella Avenue for 15 years with her husband and their five daughters. She voted for the first time in her life a few years ago, but hasn't cast a ballot since.

Buxton can't remember the name of the candidate she voted for, but she remembers her decision wasn't based on a party affiliation or a campaign promise. She voted for him because of the way he made her feel.

"This gentleman came to my home. He spent about an hour each time with me, talking to me about himself. He told me the things he wanted to change, asked me questions of what I would change, and what it's like living here," she said.

"He sat and listened to me like he cared about what I had to say."

Poll 135 saw a voter turnout of 31 per cent in the 2015 federal election — among the lowest in the province. (CBC)

Buxton says she hasn't experienced anything like that since then. The last time she met a candidate door-knocking in her neighbourhood was at least a year ago. The only piece of information she's gotten so far this year is an Elections Canada booklet detailing things like how to get on the voters list and when advanced polls are held.

"I would want to see someone … whether they'd be at my house or have a community meeting and talk to us," she said. 

"Let us ask questions. Answer questions. You know, even send me something with what your views are."

'It makes me feel bad'

CBC News has spoken with several people who live in Poll 135 — one of the polling areas in the Winnipeg North riding — about voting as part of a series called "Operation Vote."

Voter turnout across Canada in the 2015 federal election was 68.5 per cent. In Poll 135, the turnout was 31 per cent.

Many of the people CBC has spoken with this year knew about the upcoming Oct. 21 federal election, and knew who the candidates were. One new Canadian who lived on Flora Avenue said he couldn't wait to vote for the first time.

But many people who live in Poll 135 told CBC News they feel candidates either stay away from their neighbourhood or don't care about it, including Buxton.

"It makes me feel bad because I love my neighbourhood," she said.

"There is a drug problem.… But it's overall a nice community and I wouldn't change it for anything."

Non-voters 'too busy:' StatsCan

Of those who didn't cast a ballot in 2015, almost half said that everyday life or health reasons got in the way of voting, according to Statistics Canada.

That rings true for Buxton.

To find out more about the local candidates in her riding, she visited the Elections Canada website, punched in her postal code and then got stuck. She only found websites for two out of eight candidates.

Buxton scrolls through the Elections Canada website while sitting on her front porch. The 37-year-old wants to find more information on her local candidates, but says it's difficult to do that. (Sam Samson/CBC)

Buxton acknowledges she could have continued to research each candidate for more information on her own.

"But then I'd have to do that for each person, and that's a lot of work. And I have five kids. I got better things to do," she said.

"They should have everything right there. I should be able to just go and click on the name and [it should] tell me about the person, and what they stand for, and what changes they want to make."

Lacking information on who stands for what, Buxton says she's not sold on voting this time around.

"It would just be a blind vote, so what's the point?"

Poll 135 block party

CBC Manitoba is hoping to bring the candidates to the residents of Poll 135 with its Operation Vote block party on Thursday, Oct. 17.

Voters from Winnipeg North can join us for free hot dogs and to meet their candidates at the Bell Tower — 470A Selkirk Ave. — from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Ismaila Alfa will be there with his afternoon radio show, Up to Speed. CBC Winnipeg News will also be there for its TV newscast at 6 p.m., with anchor Janet Stewart and meteorologist John Sauder.

Everyone is invited to ask questions, share views and meet the candidates who want to be the next member of Parliament for Winnipeg North.

As part of a series of stories titled "Operation Vote," CBC Manitoba will talk with people in the Poll 135 polling area about voter turnout, and what it would take for some non-voters to mark an "X" on a federal election ballot.

CBC Manitoba is hosting an Operation Vote block party with free hot dog supper on Thursday, Oct. 17 from 4:30 - 7 p.m. in the heart of Winnipeg's North End at Powers-Selkirk Park South at 470 A Selkirk, across the street from the Bell Tower. Come meet the candidates from the four main parties in your riding as CBC's afternoon radio show Up To Speed and CBC News Winnipeg at 6 happen live on location.  


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