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ELECTION 2015: NDP candidate says life's lessons prepared her well for political challenges

Norah Bowman is running for the NDP in Kelowna Lake Country in the 2015 federal election.
September 01, 2015 - 11:29 AM

KELOWNA - While the NDP is riding a strong wave of support across much of Canada, some candidates are still finding themselves in tough in their own ridings.

Kelowna-Lake Country is one of them. Norah Bowman, a rookie candidate for the NDP, is going after Conservative incumbent Ron Cannan, a three-term Member of Parliament who last election took 58 per cent of the popular vote in a riding known to be very Conservative friendly.

Maybe it’s her newbie status but Bowman seems unfazed by the challenge she is facing. Or maybe it’s because she’s faced significant challenges of her own just getting to where she is today.

“I grew up very poor in a trailer on a sustenance farm. We moved there when I was very young. My stepfather had one of those great mill jobs you could count on to raise a family but he got laid off.”

Bowman says the layoff led to a prolonged period where the family eeked out a living on welfare and odd jobs.

“There were five of us kids. We had a cow and the farm so we had good food. My mom worked hard to raise us but we didn’t have new clothes all the time and I didn’t even know what Nintendo was.”

But both her parents managed to go to college and retrain for new careers, get new jobs and lift the family back out of poverty.

“I’ve had situations in my life that required me to think hard about the situation and be very careful with my resources, so I don’t find the campaign to be a big stretch. I’m drawing on the life skills I’ve developed over the years.”

Bowman followed her parents into post secondary education, earing her undergraduate degree at the former Okanagan University College. She then completed her Masters degree in English at the University of Manitoba and capped it off with a PhD from the University of Alberta, albeit on a very British Columbian subject.

“My PhD was on the pine beetle. It gave me insight into the relationship between climate change and our valley, the connection between pine beetle and forest fires.”

Bowman describes herself as a single mom but only because her partner works as a bush pilot and is gone for six months at a time.

She currently works as a professor and chair of the interdisciplinary studies at Okanagan College where one of her students recently suggested she should consider running federally for the NDP.

At the time, the party wasn’t enjoying the surge of popularity it is enjoying today, with the real possibility it could form the next government, although Bowman is quick to tone down that rhetoric.

“I can say this, there has never been an NDP campaign like this before. We have had exponential growth in terms of volunteers and support. It’s a tsunami.”

It’s been quite a ride for Bowman, who says her previous political experience consisted of doing flyer drops for various campaigns. “I’d never seen the inner workings, never did strategy.”

Skipping right to the top, as she has, Bowman says she’s still not fully involved.

“I have a campaign manager. I have two people (who) work daily on managing the campaign and strategy. We have a big list of volunteers. My job is to be the candidate and learn policy, understand the party’s platform and connect with the voters."

While she’s new to big-P politics, Bowman says her life experiences have well prepared her for the role.

“I’ve been a teacher and a community organizer for quite a long time. I started a chapter of Amnesty International 20 years ago in 100 Mile House.”

Even better, Bowman says she doesn’t have any trouble walking the walk.

“NDP values are my values and that’s what has kept my life going. It’s not hard for me being a political candidate. I get to be myself every single day. When I step out the door I can speak honestly about those values because I’ve been living them my whole life.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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