It was the annual Vaisakhi parade in Vancouver. About 250,000 people attend every year. During an election year, this event is a grand opportunity to meet people, introduce yourself and your candidate, and possibly discuss issues of the day. Or so it seemed to me. Boy, was I surprised.
We showed up early in the morning to set up. Signs, banners, leaflets, and of course: the bright orange helium balloons for which my party is famous. Since Jeem was very early indeed, he got to put up his candidate's signs in the most prominent places.
It turned out we were too busy to talk with anyone. It was a non-stop balloon-making hullabaloo. Instead of engaging with voters, we had an assembly line trying to keep up with the frenzied demand for balloons, from thousands of people
And, how many volunteers does it take to blow up one balloon? I've often wondered about that question, and now I know.
Candidate for Vancouver-Quilchena
We went through two tanks of helium and hundreds and hundreds of balloons. Several thousand in fact.
The candidates who showed up, including the leader, were enlisted to make, and hand out, balloons.
Candidate for Richmond-Steveston
Long after our candidates departed Jeem was pulled aside by some official event organisers who reminded him (he appearing to be the official representative for the BC NDP at this point) that we had been told a number of times over several years that balloons were not to be used at the Vaisakhi parade in Vancouver. "We want to be environmentally responsible, and helium and plastic balloons are not being responsible," they said with slightly raised voices. "Oh, I didn't know," was Jeem's reply, and that didn't go over too well. So...
"I think the Liberals are giving out balloons too," Jeem said. "Their tent is over there," as he pointed vaguely, in a westerly direction.
Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.