He wasn’t knocking on the door. He was in an SUV.
One of the members of the Lberal team had come to our front door and we immediately said we wanted a sign.
I had planned to wait until I returned from my vacation, perhaps getting a sign sometime around Labour Day. Today? well as the last day of August, with a guy at the door, why not, we figured.
What we didn’t figure on was the candidate coming up to us and saying hello. I always put signs on my lawn because I’m a bit of a loud-mouth. I always take a position, which means I always have a sign. But since when does the candidate come and say hi?
We were a bit astonished, and maybe also a bit star-struck. Bill Blair is a tall friendly guy, one of the most recognizable people in this city over the past decade even without his police uniform. We shook hands, a kind handshake rather than the bone-crusher assault you might fear from such a big strong guy.
And he stood at the door talking to us for a good 15-20 minutes. I kept expecting him to need to run off but we had a wonderful conversation like none I’ve ever had with a politician, possibly because Blair isn’t a politician.
Now please note, I say that as a compliment. Bill Blair may be running for office but he is not a politician. In the ugly attack ads that try to suggest Justin Trudeau “isn’t ready”, i figure they might be right only in the sense that he isn’t ready to be the usual sort of politician. After all, who needs the usual sort of politician?
Neither Trudeau nor Blair resembles the old-style politician: thank goodness.
At the doorway, we talked about several things, a rambling conversation. Rob Ford came up, because in our neighbourhood most of the signage (in the election that he won, that is) was for Ford, whereas we supported Smitherman.
I feel very lucky, as we were given some remarkable moments of insight in our conversation. Blair told us that the three parties all approached him about running.
- The NDP asked him.
Blair said he’d been a friend of Jack Layton, a man Blair clearly admired, but that’s not who the NDP is anymore he said. Forgive me if my paraphrase is off, but I was a bit starstruck listening to what Blair had to say.
- The Conservatives asked him.
Blair said the Harper Conservatives said “they’d let me run for them”. And then what? Blair more or less said he couldn’t abide a situation where he’d be a robot always on a tight leash, told what to say, with no autonomy. Mike Harris also came to talk to him (trying to persuade him to run for the Conservatives), and this was, I think a warmer conversation where Blair admitted he could not see himself working in the Harper government. As a person who never liked Harris’ policies, I have to say, I admire very much what Blair reports as Harris’s very gentle reply: that old MH said “have a good look and decide which one you admire the most, and then follow him”. Which brings us to the third party.
- The Liberals asked him.
And the thing Blair remarked upon at this point was that Trudeau said he wanted him to be part of his team. Trudeau recognized Blair’s huge expertise in law enforcement. And Blair spoke of his excitement that so many talented people were being brought together to form a strong team.
There was more said at the door than this of course. There was a big conflict between Harper and Blair (and other police chiefs, with whom he was in a solid consensus) concerning the long gun registry. Police chiefs wanted it kept but the Harper government wanted it gone, and so of course it went. Blair jokingly told us that Harper said Blair was a “leader of a cult”. The police chiefs a cult??
What a weird thing to say.
I’ve talked about attack ads. Whatever their purpose or affiliation I don’t like them. They are the ugliest kind of manipulation, distorting the conversation. Shouldn’t our political discourse be about vision rather than harping on mistakes, about possibilities rather than covering your butt? Yes the average person is probably too afraid to step into the public eye, too afraid to submit to the kind of scrutiny that one gets in attack ads. That in itself is one of the things wrong with attack ads. Politics should be open to average people too. Anyone with ideas should be welcomed into the conversation. If I had my druthers the spending limit would be much much lower, so that anyone with an idea could immediately get into the race. Why are we limiting our conversation to the guys who have tons of money?
And the polls? I wonder about that. The early lead enjoyed by Mulcair reminds me a lot of the early lead enjoyed in Toronto’s mayoralty election by Olivia Chow. At first, when everyone was in terror of the bogeyman (someone named “Ford”), Chow’s candidacy was welcomed. In due course when the electorate got a better look at the field, saw Tory and Chow, and realized that they didn’t need to fear a Ford, that changed. I wonder if the same dynamics might be at work among those wanting “anyone but Harper” in the Prime Minister’s Office? Mulcair may have solid support in Quebec, but as this super long election campaign goes on I wonder if voters will discover Trudeau’s team?
Blair is not at my door anymore. No, but he is knocking on the door of Parliament. I believe he’ll win in our riding, a star candidate whose support transcends party lines. Every party wanted him.
I know who I am voting for here in Scarborough Southwest.