ELECTION: NDP’s Brian White juggling a busy schedule these days

Brian White has four video projects due and he’s not sure where he’s going to find the time.

A provincial election was called a little earlier than White bargained for and he’s feverishly dividing his schedule between the campaign and making a living.

Since 2000, he’s operated Bear Track Productions, a one-man company focused on documentary making, but now producing a number of short information videos.

“The video business is suddenly busy,” says White, seemingly calm in the chaos of his campaign headquarters at Northgate plaza.

“I’ve got one project due today and I’m not sure when I’m going to do it.”

This is a good problem to have, he explains.  There have been times when Bear Track wasn’t making money and White was forced to start other small businesses, including a moving company and, more recently, a cleaning company.

The 38-year-old grew up in Sarnia and graduated from St. Patrick’s High School. He has travelled and had some interesting experiences that led to his profession, as well as his love of politics.

He studied at Niagara College and headed east with his schoolteacher wife, Jessi. They lived in Halifax where White pursued a career in documentary film. Later they moved to a tiny Cree community in Northern Quebec so Jessi could teach.

In 2007, the couple returned to Sarnia. Three years later he ran for city council.

“There was a lack of direction for my community, economically and socially,” says the father of two. “I just thought I could make a difference and that local politics needed some new ideas.”

White lost that race but someone in the local NDP association noticed him.

In short order, White became the Sarnia-Lambton NDP candidate in the 2011 federal election.  A few months later, his name was on the ballot again for the provincial vote.

Three election campaigns in two years taught him a lot about the riding, its residents and its leadership, he says.

White stops talking and smiles as a familiar face approaches.  It’s Mike Hurry, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Sarnia-Lambton and a lifelong friend.

“I’ve known Mike since I was six, when I was a Little Brother,” explains White.

“I remember this guy when he had no grey hair and was only this high,” smiles Hurry, gesturing three feet off the ground.

When he was little and his mom was single, White’s Big Brother Ron was an important role model.

“I don’t know where I’d be otherwise,” he says. “I’m still friends with his family.”

Ron died when White was 19 and White was asked to speak at the funeral. That speech helped him prepare for politics in some ways, he said.

“That was the first time I spoke in public. I spoke what I meant and what I felt and people said afterward that they appreciated how genuine it was.

“I don’t think that’s ever changed.  In politics, I still just show up and I’m just myself.”

Name: Brian White

Party: NDP

Age: 38

Occupation: Video producer

Previous elections: 1 municipal (lost), 1 provincial (lost), 1 federal (lost)

Marital status: Married to Jessi for 13 years

Most important issue: Economy and keeping utility bills affordable

– Cathy Dobson