If Kelowna-Lake Country NDP candidate Norah Bowman defeats incumbent Conservative Ron Cannan in the Oct. 19 federal election, the popular local Tory will only have himself to blame.
He may not know it, but he’s the reason she is running against him.
Bowman, a professor at Okanagan College, said she is in the race as a direct result of an appearance by Cannan in her classroom.
According to Bowman, who teaches English and women’s studies, she invited Cannan to speak to her class about the federal response to missing and murdered aboriginal women in B.C.
But her students were so unhappy with Cannan’s answers to their questions, one, a member of the NDP’s youth wing, implored Bowman to seek the party’s nomination for the upcoming election.
The single mother of a seven-year-old son said while she voted NDP anyway, she took her time deciding to enter the rough and tumble world of politics.
But once she did, and won the nomination, she immersed herself in listening to what residents of the riding have to say rather than telling them first what an NDP government would do.
“I think it’s important to hear first what their issues are,” she said.
Bowman is no stranger to election campaigns having volunteered to work on several in the past.
But she described herself as someone who normally comes in late and does whatever organizers need her to do, like passing our leaflets and putting up signs.
But this time it’s different. This time she’s the candidate and that brings with it a totally different responsibility.
“There’s a lot of door-knocking,” says the affable Bowman, who moved to Kelowna when she was in Grade 12 and graduated from Kelowna Senior Secondary.
“Mostly I listen,” she says of her campaign style. “How do you know you will be able to represent people if you don’t shut up and listen to what they have to say?”
And she said she is hearing plenty on the doorsteps of the riding during this campaign —concerns about personal freedoms in light of recent legislation passed by the federal Conservative government, the sputtering performance of the economy, jobs, environmental protections and the need for affordable daycare.
For Bowman, who despite growing up poor in rural B.C. before moving here, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at Okanagan College while working several jobs to pay her way and then earning her PhD from the University of Alberta, the NDP seemed like a natural fit.
“NDP values are my values,” she said. “And I believe they are Canadians’ values too.”
She said those values include something she learned growing up—the need to help people who need assistance.
It is something she has experienced first-hand.
Bowman moved to the Cariboo with her family when she was five-year-old because her step-father got a good job at a lumber mill.
But when the mill closed and her step-father lost his job, times were tough for her family.
“He was unemployed for 10 years and there were times we were on social assistance,” said Bowman.
She described her family as poor but responsible.“We always looked after one another.”
Bowman said she is running a principled campaign, one that she, her team and her supporters can be proud of and one that, at the end of the day, will leave her the same person she was when she embarked on her run to win the MP’s job in Kelowna-Lake Country.