The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative riding association is looking to hire four paid door-to-door canvassers ahead of the upcoming election campaign.
Such a move is a first, according to the member of Parliament for whom canvassers will be advocating.
Funding is coming from money the party typically uses to hire an out-of-province telephone company that contacts constituents prior to the writ dropping, incumbent Conservative MP Cathy McLeod told KTW.
She said the decision was made to re-allocate those funds locally because fewer people are using landlines.
A description for the local position states the job pays $13.50 an hour as a training wage and $15 once training ends.
Canvassers will go door-to-door, must engage with between 15 and 25 residents per hour and must have their own transportation for the two-hour shifts.
McLeod said the riding association hopes to have the positions filled by the summer.
“We know other campaigns throughout the country, from all parties, have done this and we thought it might be a nice thing locally in terms of an opportunity for a student,” she said.
McLeod said she has not had paid canvassers in any of her past campaigns, relying only on volunteers.
Asked if the positions should be volunteere-based as opposed to being paid, McLeod said those who are hired will need to be a supporter of her and the Conservative party, noting the hiring process will involve a job interview.
McLeod said she also has an active contingent of volunteer canvassers who are already going door-to-door, asking for voters’ concerns heading into election season and if they will be supporting McLeod in the fall.
“The campaign is run on volunteers,” McLeod said.
Door-to-door canvassing is something the other four parties in the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo rely on volunteers for, though there are some exceptions.
Bill Sundhu, local NDP riding association president and 2015 federal election candidate, said his party has used paid canvassers in the past, but only in “exceptional circumstances.
“In key [contested] polls, and if we have the financial resources, we will hire door-to-door canvassers, but that is very much the exception,” said Sundhu, noting the local NDP may have hired two or three paid canvassers during the 2015 election.
He said paying canvassers is something the NDP will do if it needs “an extra push” on the campaign trail — otherwise, the party relies on volunteers.
“The Conservatives are a very well-funded party,” Sundhu said. “They always have the advantage of money, so they can hire people. We are much more a grassroots party.”
Sundhu said paid canvassers are just one component of the larger need to overhaul campaign financing in Canada.
“They [political parties] should compete based on their policies and ideas and not how big their war chest is — and that includes the ability to hire people for their campaigns,” he said.
Liberal riding association president Nena Jocic-Andrejevic said that, to the best of her knowledge, the Grits only use volunteer canvassers, but she is not certain if exceptions have ever been made.
“I don’t think, under the party’s watch, that we allow that,” Jocic-Andrejevic said of paid canvassers.
Jocic-Andrejevic was president of the Liberals’ North Okanagan-Shuswap riding association until February, when she became president of the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo constituency association.
Door-to-door canvassing wasn’t a common practice for the Green party during the 2015 election, according to local riding association president Matt Greenwood.
While the party plans to do more canvassing in this year’s election campaign, it won’t be a paid service, partly due to the party’s small war chest.
The People’s Party — Canada’s newest federal party created by former Conservative MP Maxime Bernier — plans to have all its door-to-door canvassing done by volunteers.
“We’re doing it all with volunteers, with party members. We have no expectation that we’re going to be changing our policy with respect to that,” People’s Party regional co-ordinator Glen Walushka said.
“This is supposed to be a party for the people and of the people.”