MP Terry Beech has knocked on a lot of doors in his riding of Burnaby North-Seymour.
“We passed 100,000 doors sometime last winter,” said Beech.
That’s impressive considering there are only about 33,000 homes in the riding.
He’s stopped at the doors of many residents multiple times in the past five years, making it a habit to go out into local neighbourhoods for a few hours whenever he’s back from Ottawa.
“The last time I was door knocking was 10 days ago,” he said.
Beech’s determination to connect with constituents hasn’t gone unnoticed by his peers. Earlier this week he was recognized in Ottawa with an award for Best Civic Outreach among federal parliamentarians.
The award, presented at a dinner Nov. 5, is among several categories of Parliamentarians of the Year, organized by Maclean’s magazine and voted on by all federal MPs.
Beech, who was elected as Liberal MP for the new riding in 2015, said he’s honoured by the award, and feels it also reflects on his constituents. “If it wasn’t for the fact so many people in our community actually engaged on so many issues ... there’s no chance I’d ever win this,” he said.
While most politicians door-knock during election campaigns, Beech has made a habit of continuing the practice throughout his term in office, something he started as a Nanaimo city councillor 19 years ago.
“At first it kind of surprised people,” he said. “They’d be, ‘Wait a sec. Is there another election already?’”
Beech admits he does more door knocking in the summer when the House isn’t in session. But he’s also likely to be out for a few hours even on winter evenings and weekends. On average, only about 20 per cent of people are home when he stops by, he said. “So if you want to see everybody, you have to hit their house five times.”
“It could be a minute discussion or 20-minute discussion. We try to hit that five-minute sweet spot.”
The top issues raised by residents in North Vancouver? Traffic and housing affordability, said Beech. Environmental issues and the TransMountain pipeline. Then everything else.
Often when he’s out door-knocking, kids will run up to their parents and ask who’s at the door. He likes to tell them that even though they’re not old enough to vote yet, “my job is to work for you.”
The idea that they’re the boss of him goes over well, he said.
Not everyone he meets at the door is happy with the government, he said. But he adds, “That’s the person I want to talk to.”
“It doesn’t help me to go around and get a pat on the back,” he said. “The best person I can meet with is a person who’s upset about something because that gives me an opportunity to work on it or change it.”
“If it was just people who were happy all the time, then I wouldn’t have a job to do.”