09.06.2013 07:24 AM

TIFF, campaigns, wasps and loyalty

This time of year, more than previous years, is making me feel a bit nostalgic.  At the end of August, and at the start of September, Summer starts to wind down, the wasps seem to proliferate everywhere, and the Toronto International Film Festival kicks off.  Over the years, I never went to any of the film festival parties or anything, because I think it is disgusting how much actors get paid to play let’s-pretend in front of a camera.  (I’ll always be a punk rock snob, I suppose: I also generally hate any popular culture that gets too popular.)

Anyway, I digress. This time of year is the time when I would start heading over to the Liberal Party headquarters – federal and provincial – on St. Mary’s Street, off Yonge.  In 2003, in 2007 and 2011, we’d take up residence in that crummy old building, and spend hour after hour campaigning under the leadership of Dalton McGuinty and Don Guy.  In 2003 we won big, in 2007 we won big, and in 2011 we won almost as big – just one seat, a few hundred votes – shy of another majority.

Everyone knows, pretty much, what happened after Dalton resigned.  It happens whenever a long-serving leader leaves, and his or her successor scrambles to depict themselves as “brand-new” and “an agent of change.”  It rarely works.  You’re there for the good as well as the bad.  The moment the media and the Opposition see you trying to frantically distance yourself from what went before, they’ve got you.  Martin learned that the hard way, Wynne hopefully won’t.

But that’s not the point of my nostalgic post.  The point is this: the people I served with on those campaigns – Don Guy, Brendan McGuinty, Laura Miller, Chris Morley, Dave Gene, Aaron Lazarus, Christine McMillan, Gerald Butts and many others – were my political family.  They were, and are, some of the finest people I know.  I will stick by them and defend them, always.  Just like I did and do with Jean Chretien, Bruce Hartley, Randy McCauley, Jean Carle and a few others on the federal scene.

I do not think I am particularly intelligent, and nor do I think I have any special skills, in anything.  The main thing I am proud of, in my political life, is loyalty.  Not loyalty when times are good – that’s not loyalty: that’s easy.  Loyalty when times are tough, like they were for Chretien’s political family in 2004-2005, and like they are now for McGuinty’s political family.  That’s not so easy.

I’m not uncritical in my loyalty, of course.  One friend of some 30 years lied full-on to my face about something important, in the past year, and if I don’t ever see him again, it’ll be too soon.  Another one was never, ever there during some very tough times.  He voted with his feet, so I did too.  See ya.

But those McGuinty folks? They are good and decent people, and I don’t believe one scintilla of the bullshit being said about them by the media or their detractors, inside or outside the Liberal Party.  (Those kinds of people are just cowards: sucking up to those with power, making big bucks lobbying or whatever, and then disappearing when the going gets tough. I call it the Dominic LeBlanc Syndrome.)

You shouldn’t believe the bullshit, either.  And you should also believe me – if you are in a campaign, or if you are contemplating one – when I say this: in politics, all that counts is loyalty.  That is what matters most, more than winning or losing.

So, that’s what I’m thinking about, a bit wistfully, as I contemplate TIFF, the wasps, and some great times in that run-down old building on St. Mary’s Street.


  1. Arnold Murphy says:

    Loyalty is a two way street, but the winner writes the history books.

  2. thomas gallezot says:

    Very well said and very true! The winner is always the one who remains loyal to himself or herself and goes in the direction he or she chose, even if it means going in the opposite direction than the herd.

  3. David says:

    Loyalty is everything but then again so is winning. Those operatives from your political family Warren were highly successful albeit unprincipled people. In their thirst for power and the maintenance of all things shiny they traded loyalty to their province and the people within for corruption, backsliding and influence peddling. Your treasured Liberal Party of McGuinty was amoral but most winners are. Rock on punker man.

  4. Bob says:

    In politics, honesty is a greater good than loyalty. If you are blindly loyal to a dishonest person or group of persons, then you are being disloyal to yourself and that is the foundation of corruption.

  5. Swervin' Merv says:

    Dominic LeBlanc Syndrome? I’ve been told he didn’t run for the party leadership this time, despite his own party roots, because he is just not that ambitious. Is it being implied here that he is also a fairweather loyalist?

  6. Louis Blackmore says:



    a) LeBlanc graciously endorsed Justin and then has provided mucho help – let’s be honest, JT is often a PR nightmare e.g. your pot posts – it is all very exhausting at times. Is LeBlanc to babysit Justin his whole life?

    b) LeBlanc graciously bowed out and endorsed Ignatieff and then provided constant help – who let’s be honest, was often a PR nightmare – you seem to reference this about weekly.

    c) the LeBlanc family as a whole has provided decade after decade of help to the Trudeaus, especially the often mentally ill Margaret Trudeau – who let’s be honest, is often a walking PR nightmare – maybe he/they are just exhausted by the strain of it all. Dealing with manic depressives is hard enough under mundane circumstances. Imagine adding in the intense scrutiny of international press, etc. They have single handedly saved the Liberal Party’s PR bacon on numerous occasions.

    d) LeBlanc as a Harvard trained lawyer could be making pots more money doing other things – but he chose to serve his people, rural Acadians and everyone else in his riding.

    Seems like loyalty is not enough in the Trudeau Party. This really is a personality cult where only total sacrifice, total submission will do. You said, “Romeo LeBlanc, one of the most decent men to ever set foot on Parliament Hill. God bless his memory”; is trying to torpedo his son really loyalty? Dare I say, you better hit the confession booth asap.

    One day I’ll get you all smoking the peace pipe.

    the all-knowing cabal

  7. Glen says:

    I value morality first. Honesty second. Loyalty third. Sometimes you can’t have all three. And loyalty at the expense of the first two is not something to be proud of.

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