Thursday, November 4, 2010


They'll Be Back

Elections can resemble bad Halloween movies. Or one of those endless action movies where the bad guys survive again and again and again. Cats have nine lives: movie villains use up nine lives in the first reel.
Most losers, whether in the U.S. or Ontario, will pop up again panting for our attention in the next election. Many of them can't do anything else.
If you could follow all those talking heads on CNN, there were many U.S. races where the winners and losers had lost before. (This is the third major defeat in a row for Christine O'Donnell, the anti-masturbationist who had to declare she isn't a witch.)
And, of course, it's not just the candidates with names on the ballots who keep popping as if they were in a Whack-A-Mole game, it's all the support staff of aides, consultants and advisers who work on the supposed political side of the bureaucracy... until their guy runs again. Eventually, they run too.
Closer to home, we have famous examples of politicians who lost several times before they managed to get lucky. David Miller, for example, ran three times at three different levels before he first won. Same with Joe Pantalone, who appeared to be an invincible councillor before he ran for mayor.
And speaking of Joe Pants...Do you really think he's through with politics, with a provincial election next October and a federal election at any time?
Do you really think that Carolyn Parrish, who said as a Liberal MP that she hated "those bastards," meaning Americans, is through now she got defeated as a councillor in Mississauga? Do you think that Sandra Bussin, the councillor who wanted to be east-end queen, won't be back in some race?
George Smitherman now has huge name recognition in a city where he got nearly 300,000 votes. Don't you think that the Liberals of Queen's Park or Ottawa are salivating at the chance of getting him as a candidate, despite the turmoil of Smitherman in the health ministry and as a deputy premier. The fact he and Premier Dalton McGuinty weren't a "fit" would be considered a plus in an election where McGuinty's leadership is an issue.
Many years ago, my father, a family doctor in east Toronto, was acclaimed as a school trustee and became the board chair. The trustees serving under him went on to be a mayor, judge, federal finance minister, aldermen, MPPs and MPs. Even then, when elected reps were not full time and often had a job or profession on the side, it was expected that trustees would work up to alderman and then further up the political ladder and be around for decades.
Dad was supposed to become the Greenwood MP but was asked to step aside so a neophyte from one of Canada's royal families, the Masseys, became an MP. He then would be appointed senator while dad became the MP. But dad died and derailed that process.
In the six decades since then, our politicians have become full-time pros with perqs and pay to match. There are some, such as lawyers and farmers, who still do some private work. But the blunt reality is that when a man or woman finally gets the nod from most voters, their elected position becomes their identity and their job. When they get defeated, they will be a consultant or adviser for a year or two, then it's back to the political wars.
Once upon a time, politics at the basic level was a glorified New Year's Day town meeting where everyone in the hamlet gathered to pick a guy to look after the roads and another guy to ensure the taxes were collected and so on. There was no idea of pay. (I had a brother-in-law who was a trustee on a small rural board because it was his "turn" to make sure the one-room school was maintained and that the teacher wasn't an idiot.)
Now, of course, the school boards and municipalities and councils and ridings are giant in comparison and it's no longer a neighbour taking their turn in running the school. As part of the process, we now have legions of politicians and candidates and their people who never ever disappear.
At least the zombie movies end.

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