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Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horvath, left, pays a visit to Cristina Carbajal and her two children on Sept. 12, 2011. (Anna Mehler Paperny/The Globe and Mail)
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horvath, left, pays a visit to Cristina Carbajal and her two children on Sept. 12, 2011. (Anna Mehler Paperny/The Globe and Mail)

Tea with Cristina and Evita on the Ontario campaign trail Add to ...

Meet Evita Carbajal.

She's six years old, just started Grade 1 and likes Hanna Montana – a lot.

She also welcomed the leader of the Ontario New Democrats and a troop of nosy journalists into her apartment near Keele Street and Finch Avenue in Toronto's northwest to talk politics on Monday afternoon.

Pseudo-social, semi-staged political meetings such as this one are standard electoral fare: They make for great photo ops and provide candidates with a “real person” on which to pin their platforms – and the presence of cute children usually serves to mellow crusty journalists.

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They also take away some of the uncertainty of door-knocking or streetside glad-handing, because the “real person” is always a friendly one. In this case, 33-year-old Cristina Carbajal is a longtime friend of local candidate Tom Rakocevic, and is volunteering for his campaign. Evita is her daughter and Tristan, 1, is her son.

She says his people asked her if she'd be interested in meeting NDP Leader Andrea Horwath after she gave a speech supporting Mr. Rakocevic's nomination bid.

So they chatted about childcare (too expensive), jobs (not enough of them) and the cost of living (too high) at Ms. Carbajal's kitchen table, in front of a bank of cameras.

“It was so good to see her down to earth,” Ms. Carbajal said. “We could relate. ... It's like I could tell her where she could get her hair done.” (She didn't, but she did give Ms. Horwath some tea.)

And she swears she doesn't mind the media onslaught. “It was absolutely not weird at all.”

In fact, she said, it's making the trained paralegal consider a career in PR.

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