Blanch canvassing at South Albion Street donut shop
Local Green Party candidate Jason Blanch and a supporter are asked to leave the Tim Hortons parking lot by a member of the Amherst Police Department. Darrell Cole - Amherst Daily News
AMHERST – It ain’t easy being Green.
Jason Blanch, the man carrying the Green Party banner in Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley, stood his ground Wednesday when asked to stop campaigning at a popular Amherst donut shop.
“It’s a tough position to be put in when you have to talk to police to exercise your right to run for office,” Blanch said. “We’re about allowing people to exercise their rights and I feel I did what I had to do. It’s not a nice feeling to be asked to leave, but I did what I think is right.”
Blanch and a small group of supporters were standing near the drive-thru entrance to the South Albion Tim Horton’s store just before 9 a.m. when the store manager came out and asked him to leave.
This was after the candidate supplied store officials with a copy of the Elections Act, which he claims allows him to canvass for votes on store property.
Blanch said he carried a copy of the Act because the same thing happened at two other businesses during the 2009 byelection campaign and he decided to arm himself this time to prevent a similar incident.
When police arrived, Blanch told the officer he was within his rights to be on the property. The officer went into the restaurant to read the letter Blanch supplied to the store and left without taking action.
“I’m very disappointed with this and I’m a little surprised because I have seen others here canvassing for votes,” said Blanch, adding the store manager said he was asked to leave because of his signs. “It’s no different than Elizabeth May not being invited to participate in the federal leaders debate, we are getting no respect.”
Tuesday Green Party Leader Elizabeth was told her legal bid to be included in a national televised would not proceed before the date of the debate.
Section 81.1 (1) of the Canada Elections Act says “no person in control of a building, land, street or any other place that is open to the public may prevent a candidate or a representative from campaigning in or on that part that is open…”
Blanch said he didn’t do it as a publicity stunt and he no idea he would be asked to leave.
“While Tim Hortons doesn't permit election canvassing to disrupt guests coming to our restaurants, we have allowed party leaders to make brief visits. Every candidate is extended the same courtesy regardless of political affiliation. Mr. Blanch was canvassing in the drive-thru of one of our restaurants which goes against our policy due to safety reasons,” Alexandra Cygal, Tim Hortons public affairs manager, said in an email to the Amherst Daily News on Wednesday afternoon.
The franchisee of the Amherst store was out of the office on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.