Tim Heffernan and I (Janice Patterson), travelled to London on Saturday July 27th to see what we could do to spread the “don’t vote for Coran” message. It was Pride Week and we met up with Andy Wilson from Ottawa at the Pride fairgrounds. The weather was rainy off and on. We had lunch at Veg Out, which served one of the best vegan meals I have ever had, and planned our afternoon.
Andy had come to London, equipped with a stack of flyers that he had designed and printed. The title of the flyer was, “Don’t Vote For Coran”.
After lunch, we decided to canvass Coran’s riding of London West. At first, we decided we were going to canvass an apartment building in the riding, in order to stay out of the inclement weather. But we didn’t have a riding map, so we drove to Coran’s campaign office to obtain one. We then had a change of mind and decided to put flyers on the cars in the parking lot of the plaza that Coran’s office was located in. Andy went into the office while Tim and I started putting flyers on windshields. I guess I jumped the gun and the campaign staff denied a map to Andy. You see, I had been putting flyers on the cars right in front of Coran’s office.
The staff were upset with me, to say the least. One campaign worker came out and took the flyer off her windshield and slammed it into my hands, scream at me, “My two daughters are teachers and we want jobs!” I couldn’t and still cannot fathom how voting for Coran would result in jobs for her daughters. Her reasoning seemed rather selfish to me. She then threatened me not to put a flyer back on her vehicle. I ignored her. I continued to put flyers on the vehicles and another campaign team member began taking the flyers off the vehicles as I put them on. I asked her if she owned all of the vehicles and she said they all belonged to Coran’s workers. She gave me back the flyers, which I re-used and put them on other vehicles in the parking lot.
Andy came out of Coran’s office to report that we had no riding map to work with.
We intended to go to adjacent plaza parking lots and put flyers on cars. However, two male members of Coran’s staff went around the parking lot, removing the flyers we had placed on windshields. I could understand them removing flyers from their own vehicles, but they had no business removing them from all the cars. I called out to the two men and told them they didn’t own the cars and that the had no right to remove the flyers. One of the men yelled back that we were committing voter suppression. I countered that this was Canada and not Russia, and he yelled something unintelligible.
At this point, Andy decided to go to an adjacent parking lot – at the least the flyers would remain on the cars there.
Tim and I continued to re-flyer the cars in the lot, while several Coran campaign workers stood outside and watched us and took pictures.
In the meantime, Tim confronted the men removing the flyers, and a little set-to occurred. One of Coran’s workers claimed that giving out a flyer with the demand to vote against the Liberals amounted to vote suppression!! Then Tim was approached by a woman who told him off about placing flyers on car windshield and claimedthat I had pushed the flyer while she was driving and that she almost ran over my toes. This was a complete lie. But her irrational behaviour didn’t stop there. I later saw her talking with one of the women from Coran’s office.
A little while after this, Tim was re-flyering the cars in front of Staples and National Sports and this same woman took them off the cars and then tore them up and threw the pieces up into the air. I was on the other side of the parking lot and made my way over to help Tim pick up the torn flyers. Tow truck drivers who had been parked in the lot for at least an hour witnessed this woman and called out to her that what she did was wrong. Three National Sports employees, one of which was a manager, were upset with the woman and provided me with her license plate number as well as make and model of car.
One campaign worker, at least, had a sense of humour. They placed a Coran flyer on the windshield of my car. It was signed, “Sorry I missed you. Ken Coran”.
Andy rejoined us and the three of us went into Coran’s office and spoke to one of the campaign workers about the woman who tore up the flyers. The worker was rude to us. When Tim asked her how Coran’s campaign was going, she said with a straight face, “It’s going great!” We countered with something to the effect that you think 17% of the vote is great? We left the office and told her to say hi to Ken for us. I gave her my name, but I have a suspicion she won’t pass it on to Coran.
At 4 o’clock, several men set up their WSIB protest in front of Coran’s office. We stayed for about a half-hour but the rain started to really pelt down, so we called it a day.
I believe that removing campaign literature is an offense under the Elections Act, and I am going to send Ken Coran an email. I’ll post his response. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.