Ordinary people usually say that the candidate or the leader matters more than the party. Young people, in particular, say that: they dislike political parties, and partisanship is one of the main reasons they cite for not voting or getting involved.
Partisan political people, on the other hand, always put the party before the person. Always. A candidate could be a mean-spirited, self-absorbed SOB – but they’d still support him and work for him.
The younger me used to be like that. If you were the Liberal candidate or leader, that was good enough for me.
That all started to change in the brief Paul Martin era. In the beginning, I was ready to help him out. I even wrote to him and told him that. But then the people around Paul Martin – for reasons known only to themselves – decided to use the power of the state to destroy lives and reputations. They ripped the Liberal Party to shreds, and no one in the party lifted a finger to stop them.
Their machinations cost me and other Chrétien folks tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and untold amounts of hassle. We didn’t ever forget it.
After that, I came to accept – reluctantly – that progressives (which I am) needed to come together to fight conservatives (which I’m not). As long as progressives split the vote, conservatives – with a smaller, but highly-motivated core vote – would win, I figured. I even wrote a book about it.
Finally, I became like most Canadians: I became pretty suspicious about political parties – all of them. Political parties are too cultish, I felt. So I started focusing on candidates, and not parties. People first, party affiliation last.
In the recent provincial election, then, I endorsed candidates in all of the main political parties. I supported people because of who they are. Not because of the membership card in their pocket.
So, Joe Cressy. I met him on the Olivia Chow campaign, whose campaign manager is a lifelong Conservative, and whose top fundraiser is a lifelong Liberal, and whose candidate was an NDP MP.
He was, and is, one of the most extraordinary and decent people I have ever met in politics. He was, and is, kind and caring and smart. He was everything that political parties lack, basically.
I’m (mainly) a Liberal, and I’m (entirely) a guy who believes in the importance of public life. But – as God is my witness – there will never be a greater tragedy if Joe Cressy does not win in Trinity-Spadina tomorrow night. This guy shouldn’t just be a Member of Parliament – he should be the frigging Prime Minister.
Don’t believe me, partisans? I don’t care.
And for the rest of you – read my Sun colleague Chris Blizzard. She’s as conservative as they get, and she agrees with me about Joe. Right here.
Vote for Joe Cressy. If there is any justice – if there is any common sense left – he will be the next MP for Trinity-Spadina.