Tuesday night I added a few more things to my First Time Ever list … I went to a constituency office for an election, I attended as a journalist (and student) – so I had to meet certain requirements (like getting quotes), I watched firsthand as everyone yelled and shouted in celebration … oh, and I also interviewed the premier.
I’ll start at the beginning, though. For my Journalism 1 class we were required to go to one of the candidate headquarters (any candidate was fair game), stay until the results were in (unless it was a very close race), and write a story about it by 8 am the next day.
I chose to go to Jim Maloway’s (New Democratic Party) office for the sole reason of its closeness to my home. I got there about eight, met up with Brandon (my program-mate who’s in a different class than me), and waited for at least half an hour before they let us in. I wasn’t impressed by this.
Looking back, I think they waited to let us in until they knew they were going to win. Maybe they didn’t want to risk having us see the tears if they all lost their jobs, but I still think it was unprofessional. After (finally) inviting us in from our perch on the sidewalk out front, we were welcomed into the busy little office.
There were large posters on the wall, a calendar marking election day (and nothing else), and a map of Elmwood, divided into the poll numbers. As soon as results for a particular poll came in, they were written on the corresponding number on the poster boards.
I found the atmosphere similar to that of a football game: everyone staring at the screen, tense silence at a few moments, and lots of cheering and victorious yells. The NDP cleaned up in this election, so there was lots for them to celebrate. There was a large cooler of beer, Doritos and Orange Crush (an appropriately celebratory color), and lots of animated, excited people.
The first step back into my good books happened when the campaign manager, Darryl Livingstone, took a break from writing results on the wall to give us some quotes about how he was feeling. This was the first time I realized how human these people are. He said that there’s a baby on the way in his family – due in January – and he’s glad to still have a job.
Think about that for a bit and tell me your vote doesn’t matter!
Think about it and tell them that.
A huge shout – the biggest so far – erupted when Jim Maloway entered the building. The team welcomed their champion and there were congratulations, and more excitement.
The next step toward my good side was Maloway taking time from celebrating with his family and supporters to make sure we got our quotes (we would have failed the assignment, I think, if this had not happened). He answered our questions and didn’t rush us. I liked him. He treated us as if we were important, not just some students.
The last step that put Jim Maloway and his cohorts fully back into my good graces was the invitation. They said they were all going to the Convention Centre to celebrate with the rest of the NDP and that we should come – maybe we’d even get a chance to speak with the premier!
Well. That’s a pretty sweet offer.
Brandon and I looked at each other, weighing the journalistic benefit of going to this party with the disadvantage of getting even less sleep that night. We debated for a moment, then agreed that this wasn’t going to happen again anytime soon and therefore had to go for it.
The Convention Centre was bustling with smiling faces, TV crews of people who looked as if maybe they’d rather be at home in bed, and laughing people. There were NDP signs, shouts, clapping, flashes going off, handshakes, drinks, and lots and lots of smiles.
Greg Selinger was there, being chased and hounded and interviewed and congratulated. It was a bit crazy. Brandon and I went to try and talk with him, but got shuffled aside. He had a TV statement, and there was always someone talking to him. Apparently I’m not a good journalist quite yet.
But Kevin Maloway (Jim’s son), who we’d been talking and chatting with earlier at the office, encouraged us to try again. He said, “Go on, get in there!” And I suddenly got determined.
We pushed our way into the group of people, waited for whoever was talking with Selinger to finish, and stayed right there in front of him. And – gasp! – he stopped!!
We told him we were from Red River College, then we pushed our recording devices toward him and fired a couple of questions. There was a crew from CityTv there but we just went ahead and asked our questions. And – gasp again – he took the time to answer our questions before he moved on! (Very good PR.)
We cleared out pretty soon after that. We thanked the Maloway gentlemen and hurried out to get writing, but I was on a high for at least an hour. I couldn’t believe it. Did this make me a REAL JOURNALIST? It sure felt like it.
Going home to write the article was a little less prestigious, especially at 2:30 am when I was falling asleep on my desk. But it got written and handed in on time, and I interviewed the man who is currently the premier of Manitoba.
Get ready, world! Here comes another journalist!
Below please find a YouTube video with Jim Maloway. It doesn’t have to do with this election, but it does show you who he is! Enjoy (it’ll make you feel patriotic).