Green candidate Travis Ashley taking his passion for politics door to door - InfoNews

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Green candidate Travis Ashley taking his passion for politics door to door

Travis Ashley and Heather Polson are on the green trail.
September 27, 2019 - 4:00 PM

KELOWNA - Harry Wiede left his home in Germany 65 years ago and landed in Quebec. Five years later, he became a Canadian citizen and he’s never looked back.

“People called Germans killers back then, but Canada took us in and gave us a home,” Wiede said to Kelowna Lake Country Green Party candidate Travis Ashley, Thursday morning from the window of his Rutland house.

Ashley had stopped by as part of his door-knocking campaign, which got underway five months ago.

Wiede, who’s a proud great-grandfather, told Ashley that Louis Stephen St. Laurent was prime minister when he arrived in Canada, and St. Laurent was a Liberal.

“I am thankful for what they did for us back then, so I vote Liberal,” Wiede said.

“I am not voting Green.”

Ashley smiled, offered up a few German words and Wiede, who noticeably warmed up, continued to explain his position.

“I know all the parties, what they are promising and what they’re doing and I do as much as I can do to be green. But I vote Liberal because of what happened then,” he said.

Ashley said he understood, left some campaign material and went to the next house.

His campaign-style, which has been honed quickly by door-knocking at what he estimates to be thousands of homes, isn’t to be pushy or disrespectful. He just wants people to know what he and the Green party stand for.

Most people he's met have been open to a conversation, while a handful has been quick to move him along. Nobody has yelled or been rude, as of yet. And, from what he's seen, there's an appetite to vote that will show up at the polls this time around.
 
"I think people will really come out this time," he said, adding that young people will definitely turn historically low voter turn out on its head.
 
That said, he's in for an uphill battle in a historically conservative, currently Liberal, riding.

“(This campaign) is about creating as much movement as I can, and if I win, great — that’s what I have in my mind I will do,” he said.

“If I get a bigger percentage than (the Green Party did) last time they ran, then that’s also great. Movement for the Greens is movement for humanity, as far as I’m concerned.”

Ashley, 26, said he became politically aware when he was 14 years old.

None of the candidates three election cycles ago were speaking to his belief system, but then he learned about Elizabeth May.

“I thought, she’s just awesome, she’s standing up for us,” he said. “I followed her over time and then, when I recently stopped being a chef to spend more time with my kids, I thought ‘I’m going to volunteer with the Greens.’”

He contacted the local office and offered to be their “errand boy.” They said forget that, with his bachelor degree in political science and his connections in the community he’d be a great candidate.

“I said no, at first,” he said. “Then I thought about it, and said ‘it would be an honour.’”

The nomination race was a slam dunk and he was off.

It’s been an eye-opening five months for Ashley, who's gone from trying to slow down to speeding up and diving headfirst into politics. 

In the time that's passed, he's learned the Green Party platform backward and forward and can offer up statistics on greenhouse gas emissions, Canada’s ranking on various environmental measures and the cost analysis of various environmentally forward-thinking economic endeavours.

He’s proud of the party’s plans for guaranteed livable income, abolishing tuition and addressing the climate crisis.

Ask a personal question and he can pivot to policy but is not a polished politician, which seems to work with the people he spoke with. 

At another house, a man his age, with two children not much older than his own, opened the door.

That man said he was worried about everything from the environment to the economy, and knew only one thing — he wasn't going to vote Liberal.

Whom his vote would go to wasn't decided but Ashley was able to relate to him and ask that he keep the Greens in mind before he votes. If he wanted to learn more, he said he'd be available.

"I am just a normal person," he said later, though it's not clear whether his “volunteer, No. 1 fan, and mother” would agree.

Joining him on the campaign trail that day, she said she's bursting with pride not just for what he's doing but for who he is.

“I did something right,” Heather Polson said with a laugh, and the two continued door knocking.

Kathy Michaels is covering the Kelowna-Lake Country riding this election cycle. She’s reached out to all of the candidates and asked if they would be willing to let her tag along as they go door-knocking. First to give the green light was Travis Ashley for the Green Party. The aim of the tag-along to get a little insight into the people who want to represent this community in Ottawa.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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