JUST WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
I phoned a friend the other day who has been elected in numerous city and provincial elections and asked just who this James Maloney was who is running as the Liberal in Etobicoke Lakeshore.
He's been around the Liberal fringes forever, he said, and was pressed into service when the first candidate quietly quit and the party had to scramble for a new body in May.
But what does he do, I said. Well, I think he's a lawyer and law is the family business, my friend said. Obviously he hasn't made much of an impression on my friend and me after our decades of living in Etobicoke Lakeshore and being active in the community.
I told him that the only bit of personal info I get from his literature is that he received a Queen's Diamond Jubilee media.
Didn't everyone, my friend said.
So I Googled all James Maloneys to see if like some no-name grocery products, there is some value in this one. Still don't know, and his service filling out the civic term when Peter Milczyn quit as an undistinquished councillor to win as a Liberal MPP didn't seem to impress anyone.
There is a picture of the no-name guy with Jean Augustine, the former Liberal MP for the riding. That would be impressive except her performance never matched the promise.
Augustine billed herself as the first African- Canadian to be elected to the House, ignoring the fact that such a term is shunned by most black Canadians who are happy to go the Diefenbaker route and drop hyphens.
Augustine left elected politics when her friends arranged for her to be the first provincial Fairness commissioner. If you don't know what that entails, join the large club who thinks it's just another excuse to give a Liberal a lucrative grand-sounding post.
At least the party really sought Augustine. Maloney, and too many others in the country, are just running because their party wants to have a candidate in every riding.
Unfortunately, as the last election demonstrated, all sorts of new MPs, particularly NDPers from Quebec, even a pub operator who did it as a lark, had no idea what the job really entailed. At least one didn't realize he had to go to some big formal house in Ottawa and be background for the leaders in Question Period.
I remember a star candidate dropping out at the last minute in 1972 in East York and David Collenette, then just a minor guy working for the party while trying to figure out his future, was told he had to run as a sacrifical lamb.
When he got elected thanks to Trudeau-mania, I wrote a column gleefully pointing out that he hadn't been a real candidate. Collenette wrote an angry letter to the Sun which Peter Worthington ran with a grin because it was such a hatchet job on me. He went on to become a Liberal star as a major minister in several portfolios, and a friend who occasionally still digs at me.
But generally that surprise doesn't happen, and the sacrifices turned backbenchers rust unnoticed in the nooks and crannies of Ottawa unless they dare to suggest they might vote against the leader and some junior reporters actually talk to them.
If Maloney did retrieve the riding from the Tories, and the three major parties have all won there, although Michael Ignatieff famously lost there, we can look forward, or so the homogenized literature produced by party central says, to $125 billion being spend on local infrastructure.
That is nonsense, of course. It's just an empty promise. Even the Liberals know they couldn't find the money for all that if they did get elected. Just another reason I'm voting Conservative.
What a tragedy it is that our elections have taken on a farcical fringe because most local candidates have become so minor in determining the final vote, maybe winning 5% of the ballots, that it matters little that the average bored voter in Etobicoke Lakeshore knows nothing about the Liberal candidate, except this one got a medal in the name of the Queen.
I must confess that they would know little more about the incumbent Tory MP, Bernard Trottier, who also pumps out literature prepared at party central. At least he's with the right party that would protect the middle class more than the Liberals pretend they would. As for the NDP, pray for the country if they win to prey on us!
And so it is across the land, anonymous candidates rather than star candidates. For every confrontation between an Adam Vaughan and a Olivia Chow, there are a dozen who are more like Trottier vs. Maloney. A battle between ghosts pleading with us to notice them.
And it matters little just what they say because it all comes down to three men and what the public thinks of them and their clutch and grab of promises,, not the men and women who emerge from the shadows every four years to tell us how really really really active they are in serving us even if we aren't quite sure who they are.
Why some of them even get a medal!