Torontoist Environment Editor Chris Tindal is currently engaged in a federal by-election campaign. This weekly column is an attempt to offer a “behind the scenes” glimpse into what it’s like to be that mysterious Other: a politician.
A strange thing is happening here in Toronto Centre: Barack Obama seems to have become a candidate. Not literally of course, and (as you’ll see) it’s not clear what party he’s representing, but his presence is certainly being felt.
I’d like to take the credit for starting things off. On January 4th I woke up to my radio playing clips of Barack Obama’s Iowa Caucus victory speech from the night before. It was a deeply powerful and inspiring speech. Later that same day, seeing parallels between his campaign and mine (as well as with my party, the Green Party), I posted the video and transcript to my blog. I titled the post “What the cynics said we couldn’t do,” taking a line from Obama himself, and linked key phrases to different pages on my site in an effort to illustrate those parallels.
Then, a funny thing happened. The next day, January 5th, my Liberal opponent Bob Rae posted exactly the same video to his blog, saying “like many of you, I was inspired by the passion and decency of Barack Obama’s speech after he won the Iowa primary. You will enjoy seeing it yourself – and reflecting on what it means for Canada.” (I was pretty surprised by that framing, since if I were to reflect on what Obama’s underdog success against the experienced, establishment candidate who everyone thought was a sure thing to win means for Canada, then, well….)
Then, on January 9th, I saw in my Facebook news feed that my NDP opponent, El-Farouk Khaki, had not only become a “fan” of Obama, but had posted Obama’s page to his profile. (Yes, I’m Facebook friends with both Bob and El-Farouk. And Mark Warner for that matter.)
I’m not sure what to take from all of this. I think the main message is that there’s clearly a genuine desire for change, hope, non-partisan cooperation, new ideas, and vision (all things that Obama has emphasized), and each of the three of us feels that we’re best positioned to deliver that. We’ll see how it turns out.
Incidentally, Obama’s South Carolina victory speech was even better. I can’t remember the last time I saw a political speech this long and this masterfully delivered. It’s worth watching until the end.