Opinion: Lead, Follow or Get Out of My Way; A mom’s foray in politics


By Vasuki Thillainadarajah @YmmyMmmy

An Opinion Piece

The views expressed here are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinion of masalamommas.com.

Vasuki is a single mother of a five-year-old and also works full-time.

Some facts of life are not the products of a long and applied decision. For instance a political engagement is not always a path well defined or pre-destined. In my case, the awareness that something bigger than a “Working Mom” life awaited me, was not dreamed up one night. It started the day I was asked if I would like to be the candidate for the upcoming federal election.

The riding association having little funds to run a proper campaign, wanted to use this opportunity to raise funds for a future campaigns. Throwing my name into a campaign with no realistic hope of winning the seat was mostly intended to garner some respect from the party and the riding association for my future engagement.


In the previous year, a close friend had decided to be a candidate in the Provincial election. My formal engagement started in the capacity of her campaign manager, and received valuable exposure to what is entailed in running a provincial campaign.


Provincially, the complexity and challenges associated to fund raising are at time overwhelming. Depending on the party that you’re associated with, Riding Associations can only keep a portion of funds raised, unless the writ has dropped and an active campaign is under-way. The catch-22 is that you have to be ready with signs, business cards, literature and all other essentials including insurance for the campaign office and auditors to ensure that you follow the proper Elections Canada rules.

Somehow, a riding association filled with volunteers and members (you hope) are to raise funds, where you are required to turn over up to 95% of all funds raised to the party, have to be ready with at least $10K the day the writ drops to pay for all the above mentioned while running a decent campaign. The “minimum” doesn’t include a campaign office, more likely someone’s basement with one phone line.


Federally, the complexities and challenges are a little less, but none the less exist. A riding association may raise funds throughout the year, unrestricted; however, a portion will still be turned over to the party. A federal riding association has less restriction on who can donate, and can even receive funds from out of the country. Provincially, you are restricted to within the border. The rules and regulations governing raise funds for a political campaign, federally, provincially and municipally, are various can take many pages (and actually do!).


I always anticipated the difficulties in getting personally selected for a nomination, let alone, get elected. Getting a nomination is the first obstacles to clear. To become a candidate, you only need two people: one to stand up and nominate you during a riding association meeting, and someone to second that motion. The choice is given to the registered and active members of the riding association who are present. In this day, where voter turn-out is dismal, you can only imagine the active member registration of a riding association. It is basically a room filled with about 20 people, best case scenario. By attending all the riding meetings, they always reminded me of a line from my favorite TV show, The West Wing: “Decisions are made by those who show-up.”


I admit, it was with some hesitation that I would decline. If I was going to run in an election, I anticipated to be out of the recognition by my peers of my values and fundamental principles, in a “real campaign”, with all the bells and whistle; not just my name on a ballot. It’s funny how an idea can take root and not let go. The time was not right, the opportunity not as expected, the challenges not measuring to the outcome.


So why would a reasonable, educated, modern working mom think of putting herself through all of this turmoil? What could possibly be the reason four years after I was asked to be a candidate, and I declined, has me wondering if I did perhaps make a mistake?


Stay Tuned next week for Vasuki’s next chapter: Personal sacrifices with my decision & the implications to my family

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