Musings —09.06.2013 07:24 AM—
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.