I’ve worked with quite a number of politicians over the years. During that time, I’ve met hundreds of them. I’m convinced, perhaps rather naively, that they all mean well. However, aside from the need for your vote and your money, they are all quite different. Some are brilliant while others are merely able. There are a few that seem so overwhelmed with their responsibility or their own ego, they are downright dim-witted.
For me, I can break down any politician into two categories. Category one: caring and sincere. Category two: disingenuous.
It’s those in category one that keep me motivated and willing to put in the hours throughout the campaign and election day. It’s those individuals in category two that fuels scepticism, even in me.
George Smitherman is a brash man. He’ll offer you a firm handshake and a smile but you’d better get down to business. That doesn’t mean he’s not a kind man either. The last time I seen him, he went out of his way to initiate a quick pleasant conversation with me on Bay Street.
Phil Fontaine is one of the most misunderstood people in politics. Honestly, he is one of the kindest, most sincere, giving person I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. I think I still owe him $20 bucks. But Phil’s detractors unfairly paint him as some sort of villain. That’s the furthest from the truth.
Both Phil Fontaine and George Smitherman have two completely different styles and personalities, but are still in category one: they are both caring and sincere.
John Beaucage, my former boss – is untouchable in this category. Kind, caring and sincere and means it.
I’ve recently moved into the riding of Thornhill, which is going to be an intense battleground when a federal election is called later this year. This is a perfect example of sincerity vs. disingenuousness.
– is among the most sincere, visionary people I’ve come to know. Her smile, handshake and words mean a lot. She’ll take as much time as she can, just to get to know you and your issues. She polished but personable. I don’t expect these qualities to change in the near future.
Karen is a tireless advocate for anti-racism, human rights and diversity. She was Executive Director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation as well as the National Director of League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada. She knows her stuff.
When asked about aboriginal issues, she knows them like the back of her hand. She knows about the growing socio-economic void. She knows, first hand, about racism faced by aboriginal people.
She is the personification of category one: kind, sincere and caring. To see her at work is to be inspired.
PETER KENT – is the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas. He is the former anchor, reporter and correspondent for Global TV News in Toronto. He is polished and, I have to admit, a natural politician. However, having met him on more than a few occasions – he seems rehearsed – but not in an impressive way. It’s like his personality comes from years of TV practice.
A few months back, Jasmine, who just turned twelve, asked him about aboriginal issues at annual Thornhill Village Festival. He barely gave her the time of day and his response was not adequate, even for her. He was obviously not prepared to answer questions on aboriginal issues without a formal briefing from staff complete with prepared questions and answers.
Peter Kent is the personification of category two. On the surface he seems completely disingenuous – with a wink, smile and quick handshake to boot. Just enough to get the donation out of you and send you on your way.
But you can’t expect too much sincerity from the Harper Conservatives. We’ve all heard the words that folks like Harper use when the cameras aren’t on. To borrow a line from Michael Ignatieff, “there have always been two Harpers. The real Harper comes out when he thinks he can’t be heard.”
At least they are not the same kind of words used by Mike Harris, the king of the Conservative disingenuous. “those Fucking Indians…” If John Beaucage is at one end of the sincerity spectrum – Mike Harris is at the absolute other end.
However, not all conservatives are in category two. Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry is one of the hardest working, most genuine politicians I know. I’m happy to call him a friend. He always considers the public good in a positive, productive way.
I truly look forward to the next federal election and working with Dr. Karen Mock in Thornhill. I’ll also do my best to support Anthony Rota back home in Nipissing. Both are excellent examples of caring politicians who are most definitely cabinet material when the Liberals eventually take office. They are the reasons I continue to support the Liberal party and have hope for souls of politicians everywhere.