One Year

Jeff Leal’s Re-election campaign team on the night of the 2018 provincial election in Peterborough, ON.

Jeff Leal’s Re-election campaign team on the night of the 2018 provincial election in Peterborough, ON.

It was one year ago today, June 7, that the provincial election of 2018 took place, sealing the fate of the government I worked for.. and not in the outcome we were hoping for.

It’s hard to believe it has already been a year.

Today is just as beautiful and sunny as June 7th was a year ago. I can remember in great detail, where I was on this day a year ago and what I was doing. It is amazing how my entire #onthecampaigntrail experience is burned so vividly in my memory. I left Blake, who was not even a year old yet, to work on the re-election campaign of my Minister, someone I greatly admire and respect. “Human being first, politician second” as I always said. It’s why I chose to go and work for him in provincial politics at Queen’s Park. And of course, because of the agri-food sector.

Politics, agri-food and communications… who would have thought three of my passions would have all combined into one experience?! That campaign experience last May-June, which was my first, was an experience like no other. I met so many people, and left with so many friends. You really do feel like family after spending that much time together - seeing everyone at their worst and their best - all trying our hardest to work towards a common goal. Believing so hard in someone and the platform to which they stand behind.

I’ve did a lot of soul searching since last year’s election. And I wasn’t even the politician who lost.. I was just a staffer who supported them! I can’t imagine. But really, 400 staffers lost their jobs that day when the government changed, which is a detail a lot of people don’t know. While I look on my time as a political staffer with great fondness and the campaign experience as something I’ll never forget, I’m also so thankful on a day like today for what those opportunities afforded me in what I’m doing now in running my own business. Only politics could have prepared me to do what I’m doing now. Seriously.

To network, to think strategically, to have perspective that aims to connect people not divide people, to have a thick skin that is 10 layers thick, to be good at something and keep being good at it for others to recognize, to continually learn, evolve and grow, and most importantly, to learn how to relationship manage and work with people to bring out their best…. I have my former political life to thank among other things, for gaining these skills that are now so necessary and required to run my own business here at Crowley + Arklie Strategy & Co.

A few days after last year’s election, feeling emotional about not only the election outcome but also that reality that our time #onthecampaigntrail had come to an end, I started writing done all the things I learned and the following list came to fruition. I never did share this list at the time, I’m not sure why, but today more than ever, feels like the right day to share. Here’s to more experiences #onthecampaigntrail I’m sure one day.

For anyone interested in politics (especially YOU women out there reading this), please do us all a favour - volunteer, work on a campaign, read up on it to become better informed, pursue politics as a career, or better yet, RUN. We'll be better off because of it!

50 things I learned while #onthecampaigntrail:

  1. Motivate more women to get involved in #politics.

  2. More people need to understand how the elections process works.

  3. Getting more women and millennials out to vote can change the outcome significantly.

  4. A smile goes a long way… in any circumstance.

  5. Want ideas on how to decorate your front porch? Go door knocking for a politician.

  6. Always stay hydrated.

  7. Volunteers are the backbone of a political campaign, full stop.

  8. If you can find something in common with voters, your interaction with them goes a long way.

  9. Climbing stairs in apartment buildings is an exhausting feat.

  10. There are still women who say they’ll ask their partner who to vote for…. it’s hard to believe that.

  11. A lot of men comment on Facebook during the day, who would have thought?

  12. If your social media profile doesn’t have a photo of you, I automatically assume your a bot.

  13. Remembering to eat makes a difference while on the campaign.

  14. Coffee on the campaign trail is a necessity, need I say more?

  15. Meeting babies on the campaign trail made me miss Blake even so much more.

  16. Driving by houses you’ve door knocked at makes you appreciate them even more.

  17.  GOTV= “Get Out the Vote”

  18. Turf in politics means something more than grass.

  19. Walking fast when door knocking makes ALL the difference to identify more voters.

  20. Phone calling makes you see what names are most popular in a city.

  21. A lot of people think you need a voter card to vote when you don’t!

  22. Love hard and find time for loved ones - hearing the stories that elders share so quickly about their partners who have passed is so heart-wrenching.

  23. Goodbyes from people who quickly become your friends that feel like family are never easy.

  24. Working for someone fearless reminds you why your making the sacrifices you are. #SorryNotSorry

  25. Seeing how passionate people are post-debate really ups the motivation of supporters.

  26. Always be prepared for calls from mainstream media... at any time of the day.

  27. Never walk on someone’s front lawn when door knocking.

  28. Don’t wear pants while #GOTV on 30+ degree summer days.

  29. No matter how many I meet, I am always star struck by renowned journalists.

  30. Former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B Pearson lived in Peterborough growing up, who knew?

  31. People thought I was the candidates daughter a lot when I arrived with him to houses and events?!

  32. Directing video is actually really hard.

  33. Meeting voters & hearing their personal stories beyond politics is the BEST.

  34. Messages of support from family and friends mean so much when you’re working so damn hard on such long days and wondering at times what this is all for.

  35. You have to have thick skin in the political arena #toughasnails

  36. There was a hockey playoff game on E-night.. who planned that out?!

  37. The Montreal Canadiens owned the Peterborough Petes at one point in time, who knew?!

  38. Also, who knew that baby squirrels can be trained to be pets?

  39. The right background music in a video makes ALL the difference.

  40. Karl Rove was a campaign pioneer.

  41. Homemade food after a long day hits the spot.

  42. Rain makes you walk faster when you’re #GOTV.

  43. “Dipper” means something different in politics than what it means to an Aggie.

  44. Just because the polls predict one thing, does not change the fact that you should get out and VOTE.

  45. Seeing the ads you designed in print and online never get old.

  46. The people of Peterborough really are the nicest and makes me so darn proud to hail from this community.

  47. Ensuring all is ready for the advertising “blackout” period which begins tonight at 11:59 p.m. the night before E-day is mayhem.

  48. Each day, I have so much damn respect for our campaign team & #voteLEAL volunteers.

  49. There is nothing like those last few hours before the polls close and your trying your damndest to do anything you can to help the outcome in the favour you’d like.

  50. Expect the unexpected & go with the flow because you never know where the campaign trail will take you and ultimately, the hard work you put in will pay off at the hands of the voters, so be proud regardless if you win or not. Know it was still all worth it. I would do it all over again.