PART III: Working the terrain in Papineau

Working the terrain in Papineau


Je me souviens that on March 2, 2008 a group of volunteers (including myself) and Justin went door-to-door in order to get to know the members of Papineau (most notably around Poll 132 and 151). As teams of 2 – 3 volunteers spanned the streets; Justin ran back and forth between us.


It came to a moment in the day where Justin and I were visiting a quasi-apartment building / quint-plex together. I rang the doorbell for the first apartment, where I would have normally been alone introducing myself and the Liberal Party and then asking if they were interested in meeting their Federal Liberal candidate from their riding: Justin Trudeau. If they were interested I would ask them by what time would be the latest he could pass by and then transfer that information to him and he would go and visit.


On this occasion, Justin was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, slightly hidden from view, as I approached the apartment and the man who answered my doorbell ring. I realized that the man began to seem annoyed by my presence. I asked him if he wanted to meet Justin and the man turned red. He called Justin’s dad, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, a traitor and a disgrace to all Québécois – all while Justin was in earshot but out of view. I tried to calm the man down by telling him that Justin is not his father and that he has policies and ideas of his own. Ideas that he might be inclined to support if he allowed Justin talk to him. The man completely brushed the sheer idea of meeting and answered with the certainty as if the sun will rise tomorrow, “It doesn’t matter because he has treachery in his blood” while exposing his stiffened right inner forearm from his tightly clenched fist and running his left index and middle fingers over its veins.


I met many Québécois nationalist that day and it was difficult when they turned me down when they stereotyped me as a typical federalist. I saw the passion in their eyes and the pains of the past in their hearts. Like embers after a huge St. Jean Baptiste Day bonfire, over the battlegrounds of the Plains of Abraham, they cannot be easily put out except with a sense of integration without assimilation, mutual respect and genuine curiosity in one another’s cultures, languages and people.


After my trip to the Middle East (Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, and Egypt) and Europe (Italy, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England) during August / September of 2008, I found a real need to become involved in my riding (see excerpt below from my final journal entry blog “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”):


[…] the ability (or inability) to coexist in various cultural situations was important as well. This is one of the main reasons for those two legs has been the study of historical and contemporary investigations of struggles, revolutions and occupations. This ‘investigation’ actually began June 24th, 2008 when Sacha and I went to Quebec City to witness the 400th anniversary of the founding of Tadoussac settlement on the Plains of Abraham (the location where General Wolfe [English Army] defeated Montcalm [French Army]. The event marks the historical struggle between these two cultures with each other and with respect to the Aboriginal people across Canada up to the period that affected my life: the culmination to the Quiet Revolution and its aftermath. Born in 1980, I was introduced to a city, a province, a nation, a people and a country with Pierre Elliot Trudeau and René Lévesque as my strict biological father and my loving step-father, respectively.


I am a child of the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but I am also Québécois. But who are my parents? Who were they? Who are they now? What’s my family’s coat of arms? Is it time to change it? […]


[…] I discovered on this journey that Canada is a wonderful country at the turn of the 21st century. Great opportunities and very well respected around the world. As I traveled, my passport and I have been greeted with nothing less than the utmost respect for our country and its citizens. Unfortunately, I have noticed that the underlying fabric that makes us stand out in the world is being dyed a different tone. I feel that I need to assist in whichever way possible at the moment. […]


[…] And yes, I think for the first time in my life I can actually say that, “I am Canadian” without feeling that I am relinquishing the fact that I am Italian, Venezuelan, Spanish, Trinidadian, African and especially Québécois, as well. I believe a Canadian identity is being formed in me and once I can define it, I will make sure to share it with others. […]      


                                                                                                September 15th, 2008

Heathrow Airport – London


Upon my return, I joined Justin’s campaign.

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