, 07.03.2023 09:13 AM

My latest: farewell to my friend Ian Davey

Iggy Pop. Not the other Iggy.

Ian Davey and I didn’t become friends, you see, because of politics. We became friends because of music.

His sister, Catherine, had told me about her brother, and how I needed to meet him. We’d get along like a house on fire, she’d said.

I was unconvinced. Ian, I knew, was one of a small group of guys trying to persuade Michael Ignatieff to come back to Canada and save the Liberal Party. I wasn’t so sure about Ignatieff, or that the Liberal Party needed saving. I’d had my fill of the federal Liberal Party, by then.

But I adored Catherine, and I had been close to his dad, the truly legendary Liberal political guru Sen. Keith Davey. So I agreed to meet with Ian Davey.

He came to see me. It was 2008 or so. He was a tall guy, good-looking, and he had an engaging, affable manner. Easy to like.

And we talked about music.

Sure, we talked about politics, too. He made his pitch, saying I needed to come back to the Liberal Party, which I had left in disgust during the Paul Martin era. He said Ignatieff would become Liberal leader, and they needed me to run his war room, as I had done for Jean Chretien’s campaigns. I demurred.

But, mostly, we talked about music.

Ian knew all about the punk scene I had grown up in because he had grown up in it, too. At clubs along Queen Street West, he had seen many of the bands I’d loved, back in the day. I told him Iggy Pop was God, not the Iggy he was recruiting, and he had laughed and agreed.

And so, over many talks and many days, Ian Davey slowly but surely brought me back to the Liberal Party. It wasn’t Michael Ignatieff who did that: When Ian finally convinced me to meet with Ignatieff, the once and future Harvard professor struck me as an academic who thought politics would be easy, like a sabbatical in France.

Politics wasn’t easy, but Ian Davey was. He led the effort to bring the Liberals back to the political centre, and to install Michael Ignatieff as the party’s leader. He attracted dozens of amazing people along the way — Mark Sakamoto, Sachin Aggarwal, Alexis Levine, Jill Fairbrother (who would later marry Ian).

As Ian had predicted, I did become Ignatieff’s war room chief, for a while. But when Ignatieff fired Ian and scores of others in 2009 — stupidly, callously — I had no interest in remaining.

“That’s not how you treat the people who got you the job,” one former prime minister said to me, when I called for advice. So I quit, telling Ian that if he wasn’t there, I didn’t want to be, either.

So, Ian and I remained friends, and we both watched — with a mixture of schadenfreude and bemusement — as Ignatieff and his new gang of super-smart advisors led the Liberal Party of Canada to its worst showing in history. Third place, behind Jack Layton’s NDP.

The last time I saw Ian was at my birthday party. I can’t believe I’m so old, I told him.

“Iggy Pop is a lot older, and he’s still kicking ass,” Ian said, and we laughed.

He got the cancer diagnosis not long after that, and we couldn’t see each other during the pandemic. I told him he and Jill needed to come see me at my new home in Prince Edward County, and we’d go hunting for old vinyl. He said he’d come.

He never got the chance. My great friend Ian Davey died just before Canada Day, too soon, still a young man. A dad, a husband, a friend. I cannot believe he is gone.

I will play some Iggy Pop stuff today, and remember Ian Davey.


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    PJH says:

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your friend, Mr. Kinsella.

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    Martin Dixon says:

    So sorry for your loss. It’s tough.

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    Greg says:

    Sorry you lost your friend.

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    Pipes says:

    I know how you feel. The only true friend I had died last July.

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      Greg says:

      Sorry your friend is gone as well.

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    EsterHazyWasALoser says:

    Take care Warren. I am sure Mr Davey’s tragic passing has been a terrible blow. To see such wonderful people taken from us all too soon is heart-wrenching, especially when they should have had so many more years to share with their friends. Please accept my sincere condolences.

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    Derek Pearce says:

    Sorry to hear WK, condolences.

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    Tod Cowen says:

    Politics makes the best friends, the ones you have for life, the ones you connect with perfectly even after years apart. The ones I made at UofT (who went to class, really?), Dukakis ’88, etc. You share that bond even with people you didn’t know all that well, and it’s instant. (Met an ’84 staffer at Frankfurt Airport, and heard great stories.) The regular working world is just not the same.

    Mine haven’t passed on yet. I’m lucky. My condolences for your loss.

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    Curious V says:

    It could have been me. I was stage 4, and I feel guilty when I hear stories about people who didn’t make it. I remember the folks on the cancer unit, all hopeful – I’d try to get a smile out of them, and it’s surprising how often they do. I was lucky to survive, but too many, tragically, they don’t. Nice of you, very thoughtful of you Warren, to write this article. I’m so sorry you lost a great friend. Please accept my condolences.

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