I don’t need to begin that sentence. You know exactly who I’m talking about.
I had the pleasure to interview the man before xmas. His assistant squeezed me into a hectic schedule. The push was on in the House of Commons to get things done before the holiday break. There were meetings galore with this group inked or that person oenciled into the agenda. Then there was that leadership thing. I was lucky to ask for and get 15 minutes especially with the way he’d been feeling.
I went through the airport-style scanner at the front desk; standard for government and parliamentarian offices these days. Down a long hallway on the ground floor. Lucky, I thought, even if this is a dump it’s at least a hop and s skip from the parking lots and the street. I’d hate to think what the elevator ride might be like. Then it’s into his office where I’m immediately ushered into his preserve.
He’s dressed in a dark blue, pin-striped business suit. More stylish than conservative. Longish hair. Easy smile. The impression is of a nice man who removes his own stuff to make you a place to sit. Over the next 25 minutes, that impression is reinforced by someone who doesn’t skirt or avoid but answers questions even if it isn’t exactly what one wants to hear. No excuses either.
What chance does he have as just about every pundit has written him off? Of course, he’s not going to say “you’re absolutely right. I quit right here and now.” Instead, he says there’s always room for growth.
Historically, Indigenous people don’t vote and haven’t joined mainstream political parties. Are you counting on their votes? In recent history, he answers back, Indigenous people have been coming out more and more. They are now participating more in elections than ever before.
So it goes. One could be a real snark and write that he doesn’t stand a snowball’s hope in a steel factory of winning. There are plenty of people saying just that. In fact, I interview more than a few people who say it over and over. But this is historic. He’s the first to run a campaign to become the leader of a national political party in Canada. He was just elected 8 months before.
Chutzpah, says I. He may not be an Obama. But there’s something about the guy that I like. Is his run a wise choice politically? His party is sinking in the polls in Quebec. He should be shoring up his own riding say some. But there’s something in me that likes grand statements even if one is going to go down in flames. At least, people will see that smoke trail and maybe point and say: Gotta keep an eye on that one.