A moment of silence for our fallen comrades

The hardest part of last night for me was watching so many quality MPs go down in defeat. All too often, the individual casualties of a blood bath like this are overlooked, and aren’t given a proper farewell. So let me take a minute to thank a few of my favourites for making a difference.

Gone is Gerard Kennedy, who I had the honour of supporting for leader five years ago. One of the reasons I backed Gerard was because he was one of the few people back then who recognized the need to renew and rebuild the Liberal Party. We all recognize that now, and I can only hope Gerard will be a part of that rebuilding, even if it’s not as an MP.

Gone is Ken Dryden, arguably the heart of the Liberal Party. Dryden is one of the most thoughtful politicians you’ll ever meet and he believed in politics for a purpose, not just politics for the sake of politics. Dryden’s vision of Canada will be missed at a time when the Liberal Party tries to come to grips with what it truly believes in.

Gone is Siobhan Coady, a rookie MP who appeared to have a bright future ahead of her. She is exactly the kind of accomplished woman we need more of in politics, and she was one of the few MPs who could ask a tough question with emotion, while still avoiding hyperbole.

Gone is Glen Pearson, one of the few MPs able to rise above the hyper partisanship that infects most who go to Ottawa. Pearson talks in sentences, not sound bytes. He was one of the few who genuinely wanted to make Parliament work, unlike the many who only talk about making Parliament work.

Gone is Ujjal Dosanjh, a quality MP. Gone is Mark Holland, a fierce fighter. Gone is Navdeep Bains, a great MP and a great person. Gone is Martha Hall Findlay, the spunky underdog of the 2006 leadership race.

There are others who I’ve forgotten or just didn’t know as well, but who are equally deserving of praise. I thank them all for their service to the Liberal Party and to their country.

Then there are those who never got a chance to go to Ottawa. Strong candidates, like Christine Innes, who I spent much of this election trying to keep up with as she sprinted door to door to meet voters. And let’s not forget all those who put their names forward to run, knowing it would take a miracle for them to win. Having volunteered on a lot of campaigns like that over the years, I fully appreciate the kind of commitment and idealism that takes.

Finally, there is the one MP who lost a lot more than his seat last night. Long time readers will know I’ve always had doubts about Michael Ignatieff’s ability to lead the Liberal Party, and I took issue with the way he commandeered the leadership of the party.

Still, I’ve warmed to the man greatly over the past year, and I always did like the concept of Michael Ignatieff. If I was writing a Canadian political drama a la West Wing, I’d probably create a protagonist a lot like Michael. He is, after all, exactly what voters say they’re looking for in a leader. He’s intelligent. He has seen the world. He’s not a career politician. It’s hard not to fall in love with the concept of Michael Ignatieff.

Yesterday, we found out just how easy it is to not fall in love with the reality of Michael Ignatieff. In the real world, politics is a job like any other, and we shouldn’t be surprised when the guys who have been doing it their whole lives prove to be better at it than the guy who picked it up in his late 50s. Michael Ignatieff simply was not able to connect with voters the same way Jack Layton could connect with voters.

I’ll write up a proper post-mortem on what went wrong for Michael Ignatieff the party leader in the coming days but for now, a moment of silence for Michael Ignatieff the MP, who didn’t deserve to lose his seat. We need accomplished individuals like him in politics, regardless of the party they run for.

A lot of good people lost their jobs last night, Michael Ignatieff among them.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at www.calgarygrit.ca and online at the National Post.

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