poor old Grampa Bear…
Having walked into the art gallery on our first day back in town, back in those warm and sunny days of early September, we discovered that the gallery also stood in as the local office of the NDP – and did we want to volunteer – as it was exciting times for the NDP and they needed volunteers – and we, bemused at the offer, said, “what the hay” – and so here we were, the second last day before the federal election, with almost all the air out of the NDP balloon – except for that disproportional middle-aged false hope that has always sustained middle aged NDP types; floating amongst the old ladies who still want to say the name Thomas Mulcair with conviction, but have eyes that tell you they are lying, but have not yet the courage to admit that he blew it.
That Mulcair has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory seems to be a long NDP story – Olivia Chow blowing her Toronto mayoral campaign, Jack Layton selling his leftist soul – only to be a runner up to the big prize.
Not a single visitor came by to get a yard sign yesterday, or kabbittz about how the NDP will unfurl a national daycare program, or to dream about “just how orange the country will go”.
No, that was in the early heady days of the campaign – when NDP’rs dared to dream the impossible dream. Leading in the polls, with Harper moving in the direction of thinly concealed fascism, and Trudeau but a boy fresh out of prep school – Mulcair was the wise grampa bear of the political centre.
Sadly, grampa bear came with no leadership pizzaz, and no economic vision other than ‘steady-as-she-goes’. And the more we looked at him the sadder he seemed to get.
Trudeau, by comparison, looked young and fresh; he seemed eager to engage with the great Canadian conundrums of the 21st century. What he lacked in experience, he more than made up for with enthusiasm.
Over the ensuing weeks the table of public opinion started to tilt, Harper became more desperate, grampa bear got winded and started to lag behind, and like all youth, the more energy that went Trudeau’s way, the more energized he seemed to get.
So, we sit in the empty office and I watch a dust bunny fliff on a breeze, and I look at the unused pile of NDP candidate yard signs sag against the wall.
In hindsight it seems like Thomas Mulcair never had a chance. Too old. Too cautious.
But then I remember when he was originally picked to lead the party after the uber-charisma of Jack – and how many people had scratched their heads then at the NDP choice and said “why would they pick him, he doesn’t stand a chance”.