Nomination Day…Just One Day in the Life of Your Campaign


On January 25, 2016. I filed my nomination papers with the City of Edmonton to become an official candidate on the ballot for the February 22nd by-election. The day was a culmination of the months of hard work to earn votes in Ward 12 for election-day. While nomination day is only a month prior to the actual election, the hard work starts way before that. For me, nomination day was an important day in the process, but certainly not the start of it. Nomination day reinforced my love for this city.

For all first time candidates out there who think they know what to expect, nervousness is expected. I woke up that morning nervous. I had a slight jolt wondering if I was doing the right thing. And that this might be my chance to back out and go back to my normal life. Don’t get me wrong, I spent almost a year debating if this was the right move for myself, my family and my community. I can safely say, after the fact, that I have no regrets and am proud to have been part of the process. But to formalize a major life decision will always make you edgy (for all those married candidates, I’m sure it’s a similar feeling to your wedding day).

“…When I think back to this day, it was a combination of pride in putting myself out there, and slight intimidation in being in a space that might provoke competitiveness.”

What differentiates this day from the happiest day of your life (presumably), is knowing you’ll be in the same room, for the first time, with other candidates running in the same ward as you. It’s especially difficult when there are over 30 of them in the same space. Hopefully, you won’t encounter this particular discomfort since it’s a general election. Nonetheless, when I think back to this day, it was a combination of pride in putting myself out there, and slight intimidation in being in a space that might provoke competitiveness. For any first time candidates out there, I strongly suggest bringing a few close friends or family members who can calm your nerves and support you throughout the day.

The nomination process itself took less than one hour. You attend City Hall, meet and congratulate other candidates on their decision to represent your community, complete your paperwork and ensure you have all the required signatures to support your candidacy, and pay your fees with the nice City of Edmonton employees, and walk out of the room to a number of journalists with note pads and/or mics, and TV cameras in your face (see picture to the right). Don’t fret – everybody there is very nice. Reporters just want to get to know you and why you’ve decided to run. A tip: come prepared with your 30 second elevator pitch on why you’re running. Also, if you speak French fluently, come prepared with your pitch in French – because CBC-Radio Canada will also be there and will look for the candidates that are bilingual. Answer their questions, despite the fact that you will be itching to get back to the crux of campaigning – door-knocking and meeting voters.

You have months until nomination day. Don’t wait until this day passes to door-knock, learn about the issues, meet voters in your ward, recruit volunteers and fundraise. This is work that starts now, not after nomination day. Use nomination day as the day you put everything else aside and ramp up on these efforts, but don’t use it as a time to start your campaign.

Nomination Day was just one day in a four month campaign, but it is a special day that you will never forget. Take the time you’re given that day and treasure it. It’s an experience that not many others get – and so take the most of it – be proud of yourself for getting this far, hold onto the support of your family and friends who are with you on this journey, and use this day as an opportunity to re-motivate yourself about why you’re doing this in the first place.

And regardless of the outcome of the election, know that you will grow and change as a person. You will realize your strengths and resiliency in the face of hardship and struggles. And that learning will take you far in your journey forward.

Danisha Bhaloo, Ward 12 By-Election Candidate 2016

Read more from Danisha by following her blog , Twitter (@danishabhaloo) or Facebook.


The Day Misogyny Won

Last week, American women, LGBTQ Americans, African Americans, Muslim Americans, differently-abled Americans, and anyone who does not look like the gleeful white men celebrating at Trump’s Campaign Head Quarters woke up to the unthinkable.

Despite winning the popular vote, Hillary Clinton, the first woman Democratic candidate for President of the United States, lost to a grandstanding, mendacious “anti-establishment ” multimillionaire who has a long history of racist, sexist, homophobic and bigoted remarks and actions.

There’s been much virtual ink spilled over the course of this election. There have been think pieces and think pieces on think pieces. A significant chunk of election coverage meta-focused on how election coverage was done–was it fair? Was it biased? Did it give Donald Trump a free ride from the primaries to the White House? And in the weeks and months to come, more will be written on an election outcome that has shocked the world, upset markets, and left a great many of us struggling for words.

Election coverage was reported to be a significant source of stress for the majority of Americans, and I suspect it was the same for us at home and across the world . Anecdotally, most people in my social circle took social media and election news ‘breaks’, to keep their own sanity. For the women I know, the relentless onslaught of ugly, crass , terrifying and violence-inciting sexism that Trump spouted over the protracted campaign period was intolerable. Many hoped that the election would finally bring this often overwhelming barrage of vitriol to a close. Today, most of us are struggling with the knowledge that the election of a man who called for “second-amendment folks” to “do something” about his female opponent has legitimized this hateful discourse. America’s great shame lies in allowing a caricature of bigotry to assume the highest office in the country, with the added padding of having a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

“A woman’s record is scrutinized twice as hard for her to get half as far”

Perhaps most shocking is that  43% of white women voted for Trump, in addition to 63% of white men. In election-bible/false prophet FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of the 4 to 5 percent difference between poll predictions and the results of the election lies a clue: women who supported Donald Trump were less likely to feel comfortable talking to a pollster about their vote.

This election was a blow to those of us hopeful that, just under a century after (white) women gained the right to vote in the United States, the country would elect its first female president and shatter the highest glass ceiling. Instead, 43% of women voted to elect a candidate who has, on record, sexually objectified his daughter, called his opponent a “nasty woman” during one of the presidential debates, and has called for women to be “punished” who exercise the right to choose. These results leave open and urgent questions about both accurately predicting voter intentions and engaging a voting block that is far from monolithic. How do female candidates, especially vocally pro-women ones, fight sexism and inspire their female voter base?

We are also left with questions about how far women still have to go to close the gap for equal treatment. Hillary Clinton’s shortfallings as a candidate were thrust into the spotlight every time she dipped in the polls, evidence that a woman’s record is scrutinized twice as hard for her to get half as far. Even next to a man who is accused of sexually assaulting multiple women, who is embroiled in multiple lawsuits, including a class-action lawsuit for fraud for which he is due in court weeks before his inauguration.

As we look to the next two years, and the next four, and then the next eight, I hope we remember Hillary Clinton’s words from her concession speech:  “Please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

Or, as Hari Nef, transgender supermodel, activist and all-around superhero said,When you’re done mourning you’ll fight. If you’re not a white straight christian cisgender male citizen of the USA, you’ll probably have to”.

Monika Viktorova, Equal Voice Alberta North Volunteer

Monika Viktorova is a feminist, an activist, and an MSc in Biochemistry. She likes to balance her media intake with articles about inspiring women and thinkpieces about how millennials are supposedly ruining everything. She can usually be found in cafes that have wifi and gluten-free snacks.



Edmonton Sun Headline: “Redford Mum on School Fees Promise”

Redford is Notley to Edmonton Sun

To the Edmonton Sun Editor and Postmedia headline writers,

Let us ask you this: when you picture former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice as you’re writing your headline, are you translating that image into the name “Stelmach”?

Didn’t think so.

And yet, female premiers and politicians are, according to your recent headline, interchangeable. 

Is it Clark or Wynn? Redford or Notley? Ambrose or Campbell? In our minds, it’s harder to distinguish them.

Female politicians are still rare enough for us to see them as women first. So we have a harder time distinguishing them as individuals. With male politicians, the fact that they’re male is a given, a norm. So we focus instead on their policies, politics and track records to help us distinguish them. This disadvantages women in politics, who have to fight harder for their distinct voices to be heard, against other female and male politicians.

In addition, the reputation of one female politician is subtly applied to another. We think, “Oh, Notley is a woman, like Redford? They must behave the same way.” Good or bad, it’s not fair. 

The Edmonton Sun headline from March 17, 2016, “Redford Mum on School Fees Promise,” whether or not it was a mistake, is an unfortunate symptom of our imbalanced politics in Canada. Our assumptions about gender and politics are biased.This won’t change until we see more women in politics and listen, really listen, to what they have to say.