May 01, 2009 Features & Images » Feature Story

My life in crime…er, I mean politics 

A peek behind the signs of an election

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It might surprise you to know that I was glad to hear of good candidates running. The idea that we only see one another as the evil competition to fight against tooth and nail is an ignorant cliché - almost as ignorant as the one that we're all crooks.

I can think of oodles of examples of goodwill amongst us: we'd put up each other's signs that blew down, cry on each other's shoulders and donate to each other's campaigns - and we weren't even part of a slate. I, for one, suffered camaraderie withdrawal when it was over.

One of my "competitors" welcomed my fundraiser in his pub, no charge. When one of my fellow candidates blasted me in a group email for suggesting we all agree to go sign-free in the name of sustainability, two others jumped to my defense before I could reply. (To his credit, the fellow later apologized.)

Only one candidate was baiting and hostile, one never appeared in public, and one was pegged by many of us as a ne'er-do-well. It seemed when his signs appeared on roadsides, others would disappear. He'd tell you one thing to your face, and cook up another story behind your back. We kept a collective eye on him.

The bottom line is you know you're just one of six on a team and common sense dictates that you want to be there with people you trust and respect. Who wants to agree on everything? It's healthier if you don't. But you have to be able to work together in a professional sense. A good sense of humour is a plus.

Far and away, my fellow candidates were sincere, credible people. I find this a most encouraging realization for anyone marking a ballot in any election anywhere. It doesn't matter whether I agreed with them, they worked hard for what they believed in, like the typical, well-intended Canadians they are. Out of 23 candidates last election, there were only two that I can't say I trusted or respected. Half of them I would hire in a minute if I had my own business, and several I now call friends.

 

Out of time...

Serve the public for pay or for free? People are sharply divided on this. One night over libations, some of us candidates argued the two sides. Our city pays councillors about $28,000 a year, plus about $5,000 for expenses such as trips to conventions for civic politicians. The mayor gets about double that. In smaller municipalities in Metro Vancouver that's pretty average. You also get the use of a laptop and a Blackberry.

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