Try as hard as I might, I just can’t seem to get out of politics. Strange, considering that I lost in the last federal election.
It’s difficult because I’ve already moved on – easily. Yet Jane would tell you that there isn’t a day that goes by where someone doesn’t stop us and say that they feel terrible about the loss and that politics lost a good guy. We thank them and simply say, “Look at us; does it look like we’re suffering?” The smile on our faces gives it away and they shuffle off, at least accepting that we are happy.
The entire “Robocall” affair has introduced a whole new level of energetic attempts to solicit my participation in that sordid mess. Many knew something was wrong during the last federal campaign and felt that was the reason why I lost. “Why don’t I take up the charge and use it to win the seat back?” some say. Let me be clear on three things. First, I don’t believe for a second that I lost because of such a dubious practice. Things didn’t work out because people just didn’t get out and vote. Polling tells us that many moderates stayed away. Most felt the election was mine anyway, so why bother? Well, now we know. Let’s not blame the victor for our own lack of attention to democratic detail.
Second, I have no doubt that something untoward did take place during the election, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of misleading phone calls blemishing my record. Just today Jane and I received an email from a couple who have forwarded on to Elections Canada how they were called during the election and, in their words, “to inform us that Mr. Pearson did not have his riding’s interests at heart, but in fact spent half the year in Africa where he travelled at taxpayer’s expense.” This fits a larger pattern and none of it is true. It was a sinister attempt to undermine a man attempting to serve his community and there is a sickness to it. But this is now up to Elections Canada and the good people of London North Centre to decide in the next election. I want to see it dealt with, but not with people thinking I’m manipulating the situation in any way to get my seat back.
Third, such diabolical procedure wasn’t about unseating me in the end but about how these callers and their bosses view the people of London. They perceive you as dupes, vulnerable to slights, and easily manipulated. How sad! You are the citizens of Canada and you have built a remarkable community. To treat you as anything other than the boss of any political employee is to misread the genius of democracy. But you’re smart; you’ll settle it in your own way and don’t require me to run around and play you for my benefit.
I stated on the night of the election that I was done with politics – period. Perhaps people didn’t believe me. Some are applying pressure on me to run for mayor against Joe Fontana. It will never happen – not just because I’ve known him for years, but because I’m not interested. Politics just doesn’t appeal to me.
I initially ran for politics because I was asked to by Paul Martin. I said “no,” but Jane asked that I reconsider. “You have the gifts for it, Glen, and the temperament,” she said. Well perhaps I didn’t because I wasn’t all that effective. Yet I gave my community my best during my almost five years in Parliament. I never forgot those good people and I refused to permit party affiliation to manipulate their trust in me. And I did it – I stayed true to the ideals of my youth and treated politics as a springboard for cooperation instead of a ladder for partisan ambition or democratic division. I fretted during my time in Ottawa at watching some good people get lost in their party instead of their people. But that’s now their problem – and yours. I did what I could, and in the end the people decided.
I have come away from those years as a more dignified man, and yet each weekend I would come home and seek to wash the grime off of me from witnessing immaturity, partisan meanness, demagoguery of a government unwilling to put the citizen first in Parliament itself. Yet I served my country and my community, and I feel I kept the faith in politics that my wife believed I possessed.
And one more thing. I am more alive in my community than I ever have been. I’m among people just like me, struggling to find new meaning for my city and country alike. I’m in my element and I know it – as does Jane now. I am busier in numerous volunteer ventures than I ever was in Ottawa, minus the meanness and endless positioning. It’s important you understand this because I don’t want to have my own community erroneously misjudging my motives because they think I’m positioning myself for office. That’s not true. I am registering myself as a citizen among citizens, and I want my final good years to be spent serving my community. So I’m saying here and now what I said on the night of May 2nd. I am done with politics and I won’t run again at any level. I respected my constituents enough to be truthful with them while in Ottawa, and I respect them enough to be truthful now.
Look at this picture. Two of these kids weren’t even with us when I initially won my seat. But we’re all together now and I can be the dad they deserve. And Jane? She’s my hero and we’re doing some marvellous work together. I’m home and very happy. Please accept that as one citizen to another. Service comes in many forms, but “citizen” describes me best.