I like Stockwell Day. Yes, I mean it. I really do like Stockwell Day. I’m not saying I would vote for him, because no single party represents me and I’ll make up my mind and my vote at a later date. But Day himself I like.
Can’t help it. He’s a nice guy. He has appeared on my television program three times now, and on each occasion he was nervous, he was careful, he was candid. The vast majority of the calls that came in, and we had hundreds of thousands of people watching, were very positive. They were from people who were tired of the elites telling them what to do and resented a handful of MPs and backroom boys choosing a new leader.
Yet after Day’s last appearance on the show was covered in the media, the only call that was mentioned was the one that tried to associate the man with Holocaust deniers. This after Day had last year been given a hard time for being too pro-Jewish in a speech on Israel and Palestine.
In other words, the reality of his time with me had little to do with that described in most of our nation’s newspapers and television and radio stations. And this seems to have been the story all along. Sure the man has made plenty of mistakes, but then the prime minister has made far more, at far more cost. Joe Clark was considered a spent force for years and has only recovered because Day’s opponents want anybody in charge of the right other than him.
“The hatred of Stock is almost overwhelming,” I was told by one insider new to Ottawa. “I mean, I expected political fighting, but there are some in media out there who seem to have a personal vendetta against him. I’ve never seen such venom.”
The explanation is pretty simple. Day has a strong moral code and tries to live by it. He believes in timeless virtues, in life, in family, in God. He is, so to speak, a mirror that shines at people every day. And how they hate their reflection. Tell me about taxes, tell me about free trade, but don’t tell me about morality. Odd, in that without the latter the former have no meaning.
Preston Manning could, of course, have stopped this entire circus with one telephone call. The fact that he didn’t, and that his silence was heard up and down the country, is disappointing. He never thought he would lose to Day and probably still regards himself as the better man and the better leader. Day reportedly begged him to help but Manning did nothing.
The attacks on Day following the 2000 election were largely engineered by Manning loyalists, most of whom did a very bad job of advising Manning and should have been fired as soon as Day became leader. Ironically, one of his problems has been that he is kinder than most politicians and insisted, against the advice of some, in giving these people a second chance. Now they are gone, and that is a good thing.
Then there are the other leaders and potential leaders on the right, who want to make the Alliance the best party money can buy, literally. They have many followers in some of the higher places of Canadian society. The plan is simple. Discredit Day, let the party crumble and then look for a new face who can unite everybody into one happy family.
Those very close to Day say how surprised they are that even in private their leader refuses to badmouth or criticize people who are making a profession out of doing this to him. He knows that lies have been told, that plans for his demise have been in action since the week he was elected, that the cowards who were initially silent now smell defeat and are speaking out in public.But he remains dignified and fair, which will probably not be believed by many of his critics because they are used to playing in the dirt. Day may or may not now survive all this, but if he doesn’t, the only people to win will be the very types who have done and still do this great country no good service at all. How very, very sad.