Due to the enthusiastic approval in the fan letter that I received, (yes, editor, “letter” is correct) I have decided to return to my political past. This takes me to a time when I was seeking my fame and fortune– especially my fortune–by running for the Liberal party.
I decided to ride my lowly job as a school trustee and the Ontario Liberal party to what I thought would be a stupendous victory in the forthcoming provincial election. (I obviously hadn’t read the polls).
I picked a riding that had no Liberal candidate and after the election I soon learned why. It had been held for years by a strong Tory cabinet minister who was an ethnic in an ethnic area. The nomination had been turned down by practically every thinking Liberal in Ontario. But, like a lemming, I decided I would go for it. My campaign manager, Bill Ras, called those I was running against “the greatest collection of hapless human beings” he’d ever encountered. Despite Bill including me in this category, I still won the nomination.
I couldn’t have arrived in the riding at a worse time. I learned too late that the federal Liberals had a cosy arrangement with the provincial Tory incumbent who held the riding. Summed up, it was: “Don’t rain on my parade and I won’t rain on yours.”
My workers were scarce and the money raised was even scarcer. My literature was corny and laughable. We had no money for TV or radio ads. I felt that the only was I could win was to get out there and knock on doors. I voted down hammer pieces about the ‘alleged’ incompetence of my opponent because I didn’t think that was a very nice thing to do. Oh, how naïve I was!
During the election, we were approached by a rather pleasant Mafia hood who guaranteed us 600 votes for $600 dollars with only $200 down. A well informed source on our election committee told us it involved impersonations and ballot stuffing in certain polls by hotel workers.
One of our committee members said that we couldn’t afford it. Others said we might get caught but I squashed it because it wasn’t ethical. Also, knowing our luck, we were to get caught. The guy came back down for our decision and only smiled when we turned him down. He must have gone to the adjacent riding where, in one large apartment, 220 eligible voters cast 320 votes! This miracle was glossed over by the newly elected Tory.
I had an indication of the trouble that lay ahead when we caught a group of high school youths trying to siphon gas out of Bill Ras’ station wagon. After lecturing them on the morality of the issue we learned that they were students of Vaughan Road Collegiate–my old school! Bill was able to persuade them to help out an old Vaughan Road boy’s election campaign.
They became our sign crew and drove around in a new car that was supposed to be for me. They also had the use of the basement in our riding campaign headquarters but the smell of marijuana wafting up the stairs was driving our staid volunteers to distraction. We had to lecture this ragged crew on the evil of embarrassing the candidate by their activities and I will say they did refrain. They were helping to make signs downstairs and produced the greatest collection of multi-coloured signs ever seen in a riding. The only colour missing was the official colour of the Liberal party. This added another layer to the general confusion to my election campaign.
To top it off my sign crew chairman wrecked my rental car and was charged with careless driving. A lawyer friend acting pro bono got him off on the charge but, because I had no insurance, I was stuck with the hefty bill.
On election day I managed to take the Liberals into third place carrying only one poll and tying another. I tied that one poll because I had tried to do something about a massive five-foot stone pillar which was a menace to area residents with cars. Just a few more of those massive pillar problems and I might have won.