Unsuccessful Ontario candidates, take time to weigh options: experts

CBC_News_Logo.svgImagine you’re one of the many candidates who tried and failed to win a seat during the Ontario election.

Maybe no imagination is needed because you yourself are one of said candidates.

Former candidates and those who help them decide where to go next say there are a few things to remember about post-campaign life, no matter what career path you decide to take.

All said there is one important thing immediately after the election.

“The first step is not to do anything,” said Alan Kearns, founder of career coaching company CareerJoy.

“The most dangerous thing you can do is react, which is often taking action right away rather than doing analysis: figuring out who am I, what do I want, where do I want to go next, what do I want my lifestyle to look like and what are my options?”

Bonnie Jean-Louis is a former federal, provincial and municipal candidate. (Bonnie Jean-Louis)

“You kind of take advantage of those moments with your family more,” said Bonnie Jean-Louis, who’s run with the federal Green Party, provincial NDP and municipally in Hawkesbury.

“You do put aside a few things that are priorities usually during a campaign, you have to.”

Political skills are transferable

There are different reactions to losing a vote, they said, ranging from sadness to relief the obligations of political life are ending.

While it’s natural to feel sad, they also agree the unique nature of a political run or career has its benefits going forward.

Dan McTeague, who transitioned from an 18-year run as a Liberal MP to a career as an energy and gas price expert, said politicians should have a big network to help them if they choose to get out of politics.

“No one likes loss, it’s hard to accept, but you’ll find various strengths in other areas,” he said. “Look at the options that exist outside the sphere of politics, there are plenty there and with good name recognition you can go a long way.”

“All the things you learn when you run an election are really a skill-building experience so those skills, compressed the way they are, can have a long-term impact on an individual’s career,” Kearns added.

Demands of political life take toll

Kearns also said he’s seeing fewer candidates willing to run again because of the demands.

“It’s very attractive on the entry point … but they’re pulled in many different directions. I think for many they’ve done it, they’ve experienced it, they’ve enjoyed it but more and more are choosing not to get back into it whether through loss or choice,” he said.

McTeague did caution former political candidates in Canada about a prejudice in the job hunt because of their party affiliation, a phenomenon Jean-Louis said she believes has affected her in some cases.

“I feel it’s either the jealousy or the fear … my name gets known more, therefore I augment my chances of winning next time against them. Or if I work at a community organization they could be fearful of not getting a certain grant because it’s another party giving it,” she said.

And for any former provincial candidates eager to run again, remember Ontario’s municipal elections are four and a half months away and the federal election is next year.