From right: Jack Layton

Federal NDP plans dinner-hour robocall for Revelstoke

The federal NDP is continuing its push to gain ground in the riding of Kootenay-Columbia. Their latest plan is a robocall – a computer-generated telephone call – to homes in Revelstoke starting at 6 p.m. tonight.

The federal NDP is continuing its push to gain ground in the riding of Kootenay-Columbia. Their latest plan is a robocall – a computer-generated telephone call – to homes in Revelstoke starting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 17.

If you answer it, the call will give you the option to listen in on a live “telephone town hall” that will feature federal NDP leader Jack Layton and Kootenay-Columbia candidate Mark Shmigelsky.

Robin Steudel is a federal NDP party organizer in B.C. She told the Times Review that calls will go out to all households in the riding that have a registered voter on the federal voter roll. They’ll use telephone numbers provided when voters registered.

Based on similar sessions in other ridings, Steudel said she expects up to 5,000 people to participate. This is the second time the NDP has used the “telephone town hall” in B.C. — the first was on Vancouver Island.

Following a 10-minute presentation by Layton, listeners interesting in asking questions can get into a telephone queue and pose their questions directly. Steudel said there wouldn’t be any screening process that puts party faithful ahead of everyday voters or NDP critics.

“We’re working hard to win the next election, and that means reaching out to every single voter. Hosting a town hall with Jack over the phone will allow people from all over the region connect with us,” Shmigelsky said in a statement. “This really is a unique way for us to hear directly from people. It’s also a great way for people to connect with Jack Layton in their own homes.”

Steudel said recipients of the calls would have an automated option enabling them to opt out of future calls. However, she said the federal voter list is considered separate from the commercial “do not call” list, so being on that list won’t exclude you from the dinner-hour call tonight.

The town hall will be the second time federal party leader Jack Layton has campaigned for Shmigelsky. On Jan. 24 he appeared alongside Shmigelsky at public appearances in Cranbrook.

Kootenay-Columbia has been a right-leaning stronghold under current MP Jim Abbott, who has carried Reform, Canadian Alliance and Conservative banners to successive overwhelming election wins since 1993. Abbott announced last year he’ll retire and won’t seek re-election. A Conservative replacement hasn’t yet been selected.