She wasn't the Avon lady - she was Burlington's Liberal candidate who unknowingly knocked on the door of Andrew Drummond the NDP candidate

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

October 24th, 2021



Burlington Provincial Liberal candidate, Mariam Manaa, kicked off canvassing in the eastern end of the city,  It was her first time out as a candidate for the provincial election scheduled for next June.

It was while knocking on doors that Manaa met NDP candidate Andrew Drummond – she had inadvertently knocked on his door.

Hard to tell who was the most surprised; Marian Manaa was out canvassing in the east end of the city on Saturday and unknowingly knocked on Drummond’s door.

“This is great,” Drummond said, answering his door with a laugh. The candidates introduced themselves to each other on Drummond’s front porch, planned a coffee meeting, and posed for a coy photo for the Gazette on a bright autumn Saturday afternoon. Drummond lamented not being dressed for the photo but was still caught clad in NDP orange.

Manaa and her campaigners were all smiles as she shared her excitement for the campaign.

“It’s really nice to connect with people and hear their stories. Some are great stories, some are heartbreaking stories but the most important thing is to hear them out and I think that’s the best part of canvassing, is that you get to hear everyone. You get a little glimpse of their life and you kind of get to see how you can be better.”

Manaa has canvassed for the Liberals before, being involved with Karina Gould and Pam Damoff campaigns and working in the former’s office as community affairs advisor. Manaa remarked that October was her favourite time to campaign: skeletons and cobwebs haunted front lawns while light wind battered sepia leaves along winding suburban streets. Despite her familiarity with canvassing, part of this is new for Manaa: she is  the candidate this time around.

Manaa spoke about the differences canvassing for herself and making a foray into provincial politics after her experience in federal government.

“It’s a little different because the accountability is on you at the end of the day. For me, running was an important step forward.

Burlington Provincial Liberal Association president Lisa Mayeski (centre) was out showing candidate Marian Manaa (right) the ropes as they did the door to door thing. The Liberals were a little thin on the ground – looking for more in the way of volunteers.

“There’s enough people with intersectional personalities able to come out and share different views from different perspectives. I think we need that, five of us who are running are under thirty. We have a great network and I think the best part of being a candidate right now is that you get to work with people from all walks of life to bring diverse voices. Being a representative means you’re able to hear people and bring their views forward, not your own views, that’s the point of representation. So, that’s why I want to be a candidate, provincially rather than federally, because I think it can make more of a difference at that level.”

Her fellow campaigners, a handful of mostly provincial Liberal staff (including president of the Burlington Provincial Liberal Association, Lisa Mayeski), were seasoned as well, often fielding questions at the door by committee.  Manaa considers her youth a positive, pointing to herself as one of the five candidates under 30 for the Liberal party. She is young but not inexperienced having worked with Gould and Damoff.

Volunteers also contributed by working on a phone bank from home.

Some eight months out from the provincial election Manaa’s decision to begin canvassing may surprise some. But she is the fresh face in the race against familiar incumbent Conservative Jane McKenna, and returning NDP representative Drummond.

The Liberal party has a lot of ground to make up after a worst-ever showing in 2018 where they lost their official opposition status provincially, and Manaa’s predecessor accrued about 24% of the vote. Manaa’s canvassing often begins with the question “are you satisfied with the current conservative government?” It’s a bid to slip into the Liberal candidate comfort zone as the alternative to the current administration.

“When people come to their MPP, they come to them because they’re usually at their last resort, so if you’re not there for them you really shouldn’t be in that office, and it’s time for you to rethink things and that’s why I’m running against Jane McKenna,” said Manaa.

Andrew Drummond will surely have something to say about Manaa’s bid to position herself as the alternative to McKenna, but whatever it is it wasn’t said during their chance encounter yesterday in the infancy of a long campaign.

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