Student tossed from Harper rally volunteered with NDP in 2008 election


So much of the conspiracy theory coming from partisan political bloggers is easily debunked that, during an election, journalists don’t pay much attention to stuff like this, a blog post that alleges the young woman kicked out of a Conservative Party rally in London, Ont., last week was actually “an NDP insider.”

The evidence offered is an email from 2008 from Brad Field, who was then NDP Assistant Director of Organisation. Today, he is working on the campaign of NDP candidate in Winnipeg, Rebecca Blaikie. The email is slugged “Poll to distribute” and consists of only a URL directing readers to bourque.org, a news aggregator who was running an online poll on the prorogation crisis.

The list of recipients is mostly, though not exclusively, made up of NDP MPs and their staffers on Parliament Hill. But it also includes the name Awish Aslam, the 19-year-old University of Western Ontario student who said she was kicked out of the rally because she had a photo of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on her Facebook page. (You all know the rest of that story, right? Good. I won’t rehash.)

I spoke to Aslam by phone today and asked her about the email. She confirmed that, when she was in high school, she was a member of the NDP and had volunteered on both provincial and federal campaigns in Hamilton, her hometown.

She said she knew Field because he had been manager of the campaign she volunteered on in 2007, with NDP provincial candidate Paul Miller. Politics and civic duty were important to her family and she wanted to get involved. Aslam said she handed out flyers for Miller.

“I was in high school at the time. To me it was more, oh my God, this is an opportunity to volunteer in the political process than hard-core NDP.”

She also volunteered on the 2008 federal campaign of a Hamilton NDP MP and was a party member.

“I definitely volunteered with Wayne Marston,” she said. She did some cold-calling on his behalf in 2008.

Aslam said she also tried to volunteer with the Conservative Party, but the local candidate never called her back.

She hasn’t been a party member since high school, she says.

“I took some poli-sci courses and got a broader prospective.”

“I’m not a member of any party. I’m still considering all parties.”

No one in the NDP knew she was going to the Harper or Ignatieff rallies, which the NDP war room also said.

Should she have mentioned her past with the NDP when the uproar over the Harper rally was making news last week?

“Even if I was still a member of the Liberal Party or the NDP I don’t see how that would have an affect on me being allowed in.”

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